We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Stay between SF and Yosemite

Which Yosemite National Park hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Melbourne, Australia
posts: 25
Stay between SF and Yosemite

We are coming to CA next April and would like to visit Yosemite. We'll be in SF for the first 2 days, then on day 3 we're picking up the rental car in the morning and drive up to Petaluma and Napa. Then in the afternoon we'll head towards Yosemite.

We're planning on staying 1 night on the way to Yosemite, then drive into Yosemite on day 4. Highway 140 appears to be the more scenic route, so we'll probably use that route. Which town/city would you recommend staying for the night? Would Merced be ok?

San Francisco Bay
posts: 2,931
reviews: 13
1. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

I'd just go straight through to wherever you are staying near Yosemite. Merced is not too exciting. One more night close to Yosemite is worth 10 nights staying in the San Joaquin valley, flat farming country. Just make sure you get there before dark.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 25
2. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

We are planning on spending only 1 day in Yosemite Valley, but not actually staying inside the valley. We plan on staying 1 night somewhere close to the valley and then drive into the valley early next morning. Could you suggest a place closer to Yosemite Valley?

posts: 1,480
reviews: 1
3. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite


If possible I'd recommend staying in the valley, especially if you have only one day. My husband I have visited Yosemite twice in recent years and stayed at the Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal which is about 30-40 minutes' drive outside the valley. It's a good location, but for our next visit we will stay in the valley. It might also depend on what you plan to do, for some of our hikes it would have been good not to have had the extra drive.

If you can afford it, the Ahwahnee is beautiful, my parents-in-law stayed there this July and would really recommend it.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 42,228
reviews: 75
4. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

Hi ftung

All the lodging options that are in Yosemite NP and nearby are described in the Top Questions in the upper right.

Merced is 2 hours away from Yosemite Valley. I think that's too far. How about Mariposa?

Day 3: Leave SF and drive to Petaluma (1 hr). Something to do in Petaluma? Drive on to Napa (45 minutes.) Visit one winery. Eat lunch. By now it's probably 2 or 3 pm, depending on what you do in Petaluma & Napa. It's almost 5 hours to drive to Yosemite Valley. If you stay in Mariposa, you'd "only" have to drive 3.5 hours.

Day 4: Drive 1 1/4 hrs from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley via Hwy 140. The poppies may still be in bloom, but the redbud trees definitely will be. This is a great option for a spring drive! Here are some pictures I found on the web from last April: http://nleeimagery.com/?p=368

Spend the entire day in Yosemite Valley. Follow some of the ideas in the Top Questions (Trip Reports) and the Itineraries.

www.SunriseSunset.com will help you with daylight hours. You need to see the Merced River canyon (Hwy 140 between Midpines & El Portal) in daylight hours.

Where are you sleeping this night?

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 55,451
reviews: 42
5. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

Or maybe try Groveland via 120. That's a scenic route.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 42,228
reviews: 75
6. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

As long as the OP drives Hwy 140 one direction in daylight, I'd be happy. That's one of the prettiest drives in spring!

San Francisco...
posts: 3,456
reviews: 122
7. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

If you can find 2 nights accomodation in YosemiteValley, that would be best. As others have mentioned, it is a 4 hour drive, and even with breaks, should be a very easy drive from Napa. When accomodations are booked up, or if i will be getting a late start, i often stay in El Portal or Mariposa and continue on to Yosemite in the morning. El portal is a lot closer but dining options are a lot more in Mariposa.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 25
8. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

Thanks for the help.

I'll look into staying closer to the Valley. Either Mariposa or El Portal.

Thinking of staying 2 nights near the Valley. Get there late afternoon, stay for a night. Start early the next day, drive into the Valley and spend a full day in Yosemite, then come back to the same place to stay for another night.

menlo park, ca
posts: 3,886
reviews: 69
9. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

it would be a shame to miss a stay in the Gold Country on the way. Any town along route 49. Jamestown is a well preserved town just off the route 120 approach to Yosemite. Sure is preferable to a motel 6 in the valley. You can see that anywhere. It may be a little out of the way for you, but you won't forget it.

From Napa get on I-80 to Sacramento, then 50 tpward Placerville, then maybe 16 to Drytown then 49 south. Pick any of the little towns, They all have well preserved gold-era hotels. Jamestown to just beyond Sonora, and it may not be on some maps.

Make sure, if you enter the park on 120, to exit on 140. The upper stretches of the Merced River near the park will have spectacular waterfalls in April.

Edited: 6:23 pm, December 19, 2012
10. Re: Stay between SF and Yosemite

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:15 am, December 21, 2013