San Francisco to Yosemite National Park Road Trip

Explore San Francisco before heading inland to sample Northern California’s amazing food and wines on this epic 431-mile adventure.
By Staff ,

San Francisco's Painted Ladies


Trip Overview

There are few better places to start a road trip than San Francisco. From walking on the Golden Gate Bridge to seeing the bay up close via ferry, foot or aquarium, you'll find San Francisco offers a fantastic blend of outdoor experiences and cultural opportunities.

Then take one last look at this colorful city in your rearview mirror before you hit the open road to the Tri-Valley area, known as the "sunny side of the bay." Don't get so tangled up in the area's vineyards that you neglect the valley's amazing beer trail linking such towns as Livermore and Danville.

Continue east to Tuolumne County where lakeside resorts and historic Gold Rush towns await. Beyond lies Yosemite in all its breathtaking beauty. After exploring Yosemite, take the Arch Rock Entrance to Mariposa where a charming downtown and an extraordinary gold nugget await. Then, stop in Hilmar for an insider's look at cheesemaking. In Modesto, stretch your legs on the pedestrian-only 10th Street Plaza. Discover our top picks on this route below.

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Road Trip Itinerary

Start: San Francisco

A San Francisco Street Car with a view of Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz Island

Deposit Photos

Dive Deep into Bay Culture at 9 San Francisco Gems
Walk with sharks at the Aquarium of the Bay, take a rocket boat cruise with Blue & Gold Fleet, explore the "The Rock," a notorious prison, with Alcatraz Cruises, plus 6 more things to do at this Golden Gate city.
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Wine Country

Retzlaff Vineyards in Livermore, Calif.

Photo by Danielle Poff Photography courtesy of Visit Tri-Valley

Tri-Valley's Grape Scene
Discover a down-to-earth wine tasting scene and sun you can count on less than an hour from San Francisco.
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Western Gateways to Yosemite

Waterfall in the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite

Photo by Kim Carroll Photography courtesy of Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite

Tuolumne's Top 7 on the Edge of Yosemite
Half of Tuolumne County lies in Yosemite. Discover the top seven things to do in its quaint towns from boating to Gold Rush-era experiences.
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Want to avoid traffic and parking inside Yosemite?
Park your car in a Yosemite gateway town and take the YARTS bus into Yosemite Valley. From there, you can ride the shuttle to many attractions and trailheads in the park.
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Backstage Passes to Yosemite at Evergreen and Rush Creek Lodges
Stay on the west edge of the park to take a deep breath and disconnect. Enjoy food and wine events. Hike on less-traveled paths. Swim and soak in salt water pools.
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Yosemite National Park

Sunset at Glacier Point. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Enter the park on Highway 120 and explore Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point before exiting out the Highway 140 Entrance.

Download the Yosemite Driving Tour App
Feel like you're touring with a local in your car. The GyPSy Guide app uses your phone or tablet's location to play commentary about Yosemite attractions such as Half Dome and Tunnel View as you drive.
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Take a Private Tour of Yosemite
Go on one of four classic tours, or go stargazing, fly fishing, or hiking with an expert guide from Yosemite Family Adventures.
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Home in the Park
Who knew you could retreat to a house, cabin or condo in the heart of Yosemite National Park? Choose from over 100 properties in three locations at Yosemite's Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals.
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California's Agricultural Side

Alpacas on the Epic Alpacas Ranch in Mariposa County

Photo courtesy of Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

8 Gems in Mariposa County on the Edge of Yosemite
Find a huge gold nugget, the largest alpaca farm in the state, and an olive oil tasting room on your visit to the charming historic county of Mariposa.
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See the Big Cheese in Hilmar
Tour Hilmar Cheese Company, the world’s largest cheese and whey factory. The Visitor Center offers free self-guided tours, guided tours, and free samples.
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Break for Modesto, California
Head west of Yosemite to Modesto where filmmaker George Lucas was born and where the E.&J. Gallo Winery, the largest family winery in the United States, is based.
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End: San Francisco, Calif.