Want to avoid all traffic, get into Yosemite for free and enjoy California craft beer and regional wines along the way? Climb aboard the San Joaquins Amtrak train from San Francisco (or Sacramento) and let the train conductor do the driving. Not only is it the safest way to travel to the park, especially in the winter, but it’s also an exciting adventure with rare views of California’s breathtaking landscapes.
On board you’ll catch gorgeous views of the turquoise waters of the San Francisco Bay before you enter the San Joaquin Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. Through big picture windows, you’ll spot almond orchards and peach trees, along with carrots, tomatoes and more.
But you also have the freedom to walk around, stretch your legs and dine. Stop in at the train’s cafe, which is stocked with fresh salads, sandwiches, Blue Diamond California almonds, San Joaquin craft beers and California wines. If you want to check on your vacation reservations or the kids want to watch a movie, there’s free Wi-Fi on the train and Amtrak’s Thruway buses.
For the last stretch into Yosemite, you’ll board the YARTS bus line into the heart of Yosemite. From your window, you’ll see the traffic lined up as you coast by the masses. While your total travel time is close to six hours, it could take you just as long if not longer by car, considering the infamous Bay Area traffic, the long lines into Yosemite and the number of laps you’d do in the park, trying to find that elusive parking spot.
“Reduce your travel time variables by hopping aboard the train,” says David Lipari, marketing and outreach coordinator of San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. “Plus, you can let your Yosemite vacation experience start even earlier by taking the train.”
One Ticket = Train + Bus
No train goes all the way from San Francisco to Yosemite, but your Amtrak ticket provides you stress-free, seamless bus and train transportation into the heart of the Yosemite Valley.
Your ticket includes a ride on the Amtrak Thruway bus from downtown San Francisco to the Emeryville train station. Once you arrive at the train station, you’ll wait no more than 10 minutes to board your train.
From the train, your views of the San Francisco Bay will transition to the green fields and orchards of the San Joaquin Valley. Choose between two stops to exit the train and board the stellar YARTS buses that bring you into Yosemite. Going on YARTS means no park pass fees for you.
Get off at the Merced train station where you’ll catch your YARTS bus straight into Yosemite via the Arch Rock Entrance or get off farther south at the Fresno train station and take YARTS through the South Entrance of Yosemite.
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