Want to avoid traffic, ride seamlessly into Yosemite National Park, and enjoy California craft beer and regional wines along the way? Hop aboard the Amtrak San Joaquins train from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Sacramento (and Fresno seasonally) for the safest way to travel to the park. It’s also an exciting adventure with rare views of California’s breathtaking landscapes along the way.
On board you’ll catch gorgeous views 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, grapes and more.
You’ll also have the freedom to walk around, stretch your legs and dine. Stop in at the train’s Café Car, which is stocked with vegan tamales, Snack Packs, hot dogs, hamburgers, Blue Diamond California almonds and San Joaquin craft beers and 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 the heart of Yosemite, you’ll board the YARTS bus in Merced. Bypass the traffic lines 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.
“Driving up the winding roads of Yosemite can be daunting, especially in the winter. Riding the train and connecting YARTS service takes the burden off so you can relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenic views,” 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.
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.
If you’re traveling from the Los Angeles area, take a Thruway Bus to Bakersfield, hop on the
train to Merced, then transfer to the YARTS Bus.
Additionally, Fresno has seasonal service to Yosemite from May 9 to Sept. 9 via Hwy 41. You can easily board at the intersection of Howard and Fresno, FNO station or Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
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