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Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

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Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

How far is Wawona or south gate entrance area of Yosemite from Monterey? We plan to do Mariposa groves, caoch ride and Chiluhula river that saem day. Is that do-able with a family of 5 including young kids?

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1. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

Monterey to Oakhurst by the shortest route is 175 miles, about 3.5 to 4 hours of driving time, plus time spent at stops along the way.

Oakhurst to the south entrance of the park is about a 15-minute drive. Between Oakhurst and the south entrance of the park is the Yosemite Sugar Pine Mountain Railroad, a privately-operated attraction that is a 4-mile train ride. More info at http://ymsprr.com/

Questions about Yosemite and your plan for that park would best be asked in the Yosemite forum here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g61000-i315-Yosemi…

Just inside the park's south entrance is the Mariposa Grove, a 2-mile drive from the south entrance to the parking lot of the grove. However if the parking lot of the grove is full, you will not be able to drive up that road to it. Instead you will have to drive to Wawona and take the free shuttle bus from there to the grove.

I would budget a couple of hours for the Mariposa Grove. You can take a paid tram tour (about $25.50 for adults, I don't remember what for kids) which lasts about 70 minutes, or just walk around the grove yourself. Some people take the tram tour to the upper grove, then walk back down to the lower grove.

Wawona is a 5 or 6-mile drive from the park entrance. Probably only 10 to 15 minutes driving time. At Wawona is the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, where the horse-drawn stagecoach ride is. The stagecoach ride is about 10 minutes and is $3 for adults, and it runs in the warmer months only.

After doing all of the above, I doubt if you would have the time or energy left to take the hike to Chilnualna Falls. The full hike is way too long and too strenuous for most kids. To study more about that hike see yosemitehikes.com/southern-yosemite/chilnual…

The south fork of the Merced River runs through Wawona, and if it's a hot day the kids may enjoy splashing in the shallow edges. The water is chilly. You may want to have a picnic lunch or supper along the banks of the river there. I believe the Wawona campground has picnic tables near the river. There is a small store in Wawona where you could buy some food; also the Wawona hotel has a restaurant.

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2. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

I know it's been several years, but I think the Wawona does not have air conditioning. It may cool down a bit at night, but the ventilation isn't great. Otherwise, it's a terrific hotel.

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3. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

Just did that drive this week. Its hot at the Grove even in the shade. Maybe your not traveling this time of year, We went from 104 to 63 degrees on this drive in 30 minutes

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4. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

Hello again dimpsalaska

Driving questions in the state belong on the state forum. But we've all found you here.

Is this your August 7th visit? Does the travel group include two seniors, two younger adults, and one child? Or do you have more than one child now?

Monterey to the South Entrance:

Hwy 1 north, about 13 miles

Hwy 156 east, about 33 miles. This road has additional names.

Hwy 152 east, about 70 miles.

Hwy 99 south, about 11 miles.

Hwy 145 north, about 16 miles.

Hwy 41 north, about 42 miles.

Without any stops, I'd expect this drive to take you about 4 hours. Are you still planning to stop at Casa de Fruta? Add 30 minutes for that break. If you're stopping for lunch or to buy picnic food, add more time.


From the South Entrance, drive 4 miles north on Wawona Road. Turn right at the General Store / Forest Drive and park. Eat your picnic lunch. Walk across the covered bridge to the Stagecoach stop and take the ride. Wander around the Pioneer History Center. Then walk back to the parking area and walk over to the shuttle stop. Ride 6 miles up to Mariposa Grove. Take the audio tram tour; you may have to wait for the next available tour that can fit 5 people. Or maybe you want to walk. Ride the shuttle back to Wawona.

You want to see a waterfall, so I suggested Lower Chilnualna Fall. It's essential that you use the correct name so folks can help you. Upper Chilnualna Fall is a challenging hike that you don't have time to complete. Lower Chilnualna Fall is just fine.

In your car, get back on Hwy 41 / Wawona Road and cross the river. Turn right on the next road. Follow the signs to the end of this road. Park, and walk the short trail to Lower Chilnualna Fall.

Back in the car, and drive to your reserved lodging, America's Best Value Inn in Oakhurst. The drive will be about 30 minutes.


DoubleD1969 ~ Wawona is a town. The Wawona Hotel is one lodging option in the town of Wawona, but the OP is not staying there.

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5. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

We made this drive about a month ago. My wife and I loved seeing the changing scenery from the coast, to the agricultural areas and then the wide open areas with grasslands, hills and mountains. A good stopping point is Casa de Fruta between Gilroy and Los Banos. We stocked up on fruit and snacks for our time in Yosemite and bought gifts for family members back home.

We left Carmel around 7:00 a.m. and after stops at Casa de Fruta stop, lunch in Madera, and Vonn's for groceries in Oakhurst, we arrived at the south entrance around 1:00.

Have a great trip.

Edited: 6:43 pm, July 14, 2012
6. Re: Drive time from Monterey to Yosemite south entrance

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