After a busy week in the city, there’s nothing more refreshing than escaping to the bend of the Merced River at Yosemite Valley: Half Dome, El Capitan, Waterwheel Falls and all. The long-weekend drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park is surprisingly scenic and easy to do on a tank of gas and a full cooler. Here are some tips for making your weekend getaway carefree.
Distance and Route
The drive north on U.S. Highway 395 is the most direct route, with highways 101 and 5 being only slightly longer routes. The distance from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park is around 300 miles and should take 4-5 hours if done non stop.
You can choose to take two different routes to Yosemite, depending on what you’re looking for. The most direct route is through U.S. Highway 395 and over Tioga Pass, which will take about six hours from Los Angeles.
This route is more straightforward and mostly highway driving, but it’s also slower than the other option: taking highways 101 and 5 up north along the coast until they meet at San Francisco, then continuing through that city before reaching Yosemite National Park via California Route 120 (which will add an hour or two).
The second option offers a more scenic drive with less traffic than the first option—though it’ll be slower overall because of its many twists and turns along winding roads through some beautiful coastal regions of California—but it also means taking your time so that you don’t miss any sights along the way (or run into trouble).
Either way, prepare yourself for lots of great views!
The shortest route though most mountainous
The shortest of the three routes is US Highway 395 via Lone Pine, but it’s also the most mountainous. The route starts out in the lowlands of Los Angeles, but after leaving town and heading north on Route 14 through Santa Clarita and Castaic Junction, you’ll soon reach a high country landscape characterized by rugged hillsides dotted with sagebrush and pine trees.
Along this stretch of highway are many off-road trails for mountain bikers; if you’re inclined to try one out yourself, just be sure to check its difficulty level before setting off so you don’t get stuck in more than your share of mud holes!
The journey now continues through the Owens Valley, where cattle ranching still thrives despite attempts by environmentalists to keep development at bay by securing protective land designations such as wilderness status.
These efforts have been successful enough that US Highway 395 passes through some very wild areas indeed: within an hour or so of leaving Independence (or Bishop) there are few signs whatsoever that humans even exist anywhere nearby – only rocks and dirt roads leading up into mountains so tall they seem like giant stone walls rising from nowhere into infinity itself!
You’ll want to make at least one pit stop during your Journey.
You’re going to want to make at least one pit stop during your trek. Gas stations are usually convenient because they offer restrooms, food, drinks, and all the other things you need on a long road trip. But don’t think of them as the only option. You can also pull over at any number of roadside attractions or scenic vistas along the way.
Stop in Oakhurst if You took route 5
Take a break from the highway by stopping in Oakhurst for lunch at one of its many restaurants or outdoor eateries.
Whether it’s Indian food at Taj Mahal Restaurant or pizza from River Rock Pizza Company—or even if you’re just craving some good ol’ southern barbecue—there’s no shortage of options here! If for some reason you’re not hungry yet (we don’t know how that’s possible), head to Yosemite Valley Visitor Center where there are plenty more places waiting for you to check out while enjoying this beautiful park we call home!
Stop for lunch in Bishop if you took our favorite route 395
Lunch is a great time to get some exercise. Walk around Bishop and look at all the shops and restaurants. If you’re up for it, climb Mount Reba, which is 3 miles away from town.
Bishop has several good restaurants where you can stop for lunch or dinner such as Schat’s Bakery and Cafe or Erick Shaffner’s Wok N’ Roll Café. Schat’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an emphasis on baked goods (like delicious scones), sandwiches, soups and salads. They also have a nice selection of beers on tap if you’re looking for something alcoholic! This restaurant is definitely worth checking out if you’re visiting Bishop at any point during your road trip from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park
You could also make a meal out of Mammoth Brewing Company’s beer and American pub-style food.
If you’re looking for a hearty meal, you could also make a meal out of Mammoth Brewing Company’s beer and American pub-style food. The brewpub offers a large selection of beers brewed onsite as well as other local favorites. The food menu has an impressive selection of sandwiches, burgers and appetizers.
So if you’re looking to enjoy some good eats while in Mammoth Lakes, California, look no further than the Mammoth Brewing Company!
Places we explore on route to Yosemite
Manzanar National Historic Site
You might want to check out Manzanar National Historic Site along your route, about two hours north of Bishop on Highway 395. Operated by the National Park Service, it was originally a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has since been restored. Stop at the visitor center, which includes a museum that covers the history of Japanese internments in the United States during World War II (manzanar), before exploring the property, which includes several buildings and monuments.
Manzanar National Historic Site is located on Highway 395, approximately two hours north of Bishop. Operated by the National Park Service, it was originally a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has since been restored. Stop at the visitor center, which includes a museum that covers the history of Japanese internments in the United States during World War II (manzanar), before exploring the property, which includes several buildings and monuments.
Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest is the second-largest national forest in the United States. It stretches across nearly 1.5 million acres of land in California and Arizona, and it includes parts of five counties. Sequoia National Forest is known for its towering trees, including the world’s largest single-stemmed tree, the General Grant Tree.
It is also home to some of the tallest trees in the world, including the Hyperion, the world’s tallest living single-stemmed tree.
Sequoia National Forest is a place of grandeur and beauty, where ancient giant trees soar above the forest floor and quiet backcountry roads wind through deep canyons. Sequoia National Forest is a place where you can experience true wilderness and connect with the quiet power of nature.
Over a million visitors come to Sequoia National Forest each year to explore its large wilderness areas, which are home to hundreds of plant and animal species, including the largest remaining stands of giant sequoia trees in the world. Over 150,000 acres of those wilderness areas are in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which was recently expanded and renamed to the Sequoia National Forest.
Mammoth Mountain and Lakes
Mammoth Mountain is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. The peak is home to the local ski resort and boasts beautiful views of Mount Whitney and other peaks in the range. On your way there, stop at Mono Lake, which you can see from the road. It’s one of the oldest lakes in North America and is full of unusual features like tufa towers and brine shrimp.
The biggest mountain in the area is Mammoth Mountain, which offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and other activities in the summer. The resort’s website has information on lodging and dining options.
Nearby Mammoth Lakes is a picturesque town with outdoor attractions such as fishing, swimming, hiking and golfing.
Places to see in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a stunning National Park located in California. The park spans nearly 1,200 square miles and offers visitors the chance to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in all of America. Yosemite National Park is the third oldest National Park in America. When you visit this famous park, there are many things that you can do to ensure that you have an unforgettable experience.
Mirror Lake is a lake in Yosemite National Park, California, that is most notable for its high altitude (7,200 feet (2,200 m)), which gives it a deep blue color. The lake gets its name from the way its surface reflects the sky. It’s ideal for swimming and sunbathing during summer months when temperatures soar above 90 degrees Farenheit.
Tunnel View is a great place to stop and take photos. It’s the view from the tunnel, so you can get a good look at Yosemite Valley as well as Half Dome. This is also a great place to see how big and awesome Yosemite National Park is!
One of the most iconic sights in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is a waterfall that drops over 1,000 feet into a dramatic display of mist. Located near the southern end of Yosemite Valley (at the intersection of highways 140 and 41), it’s one of several waterfalls that make this area so special.
How tall is it?
The waterfalls in Yosemite National Park are the tallest in North America, so they’re definitely worth seeing. The three main ones are Yosemite Falls, Ribbon Fall and Vernal Fall (the latter two being much shorter).
How do I get there?
There are several trail options that take you to different areas of the falls. The Mist Trail offers spectacular views of Lower Yosemite Fall and Nevada Fall, as well as passing through a tunnel carved into granite rock by early park visitors. Another popular spot for viewing all three falls is Columbia Rock—a giant slab of granite that provides an impressive vantage point from which to see Upper Yosemite Fall, Middle Cascade Falls and Lower Cascade Falls. You can also hike down to Nevada Fall from here if you’re up for an adventure (just beware of rockslides!). Another great trail option is Olmsted Point/Mirror Lake Loop; this hike takes you past Mirror Lake—which reflects Half Dome beautifully—and offers a unique perspective on Half Dome itself before continuing on toward Yosemite Valley with fantastic views all along its path! There are plenty more trails where those came from too!
Half Dome, a granite mountain that soars above Yosemite Valley and is one of the most famous landmarks in the park, is a great place to watch the sunset. The cables are only open from late May to early October so it’s important that you pay attention to their schedule when planning your visit. The hike up this rock formation can be done in two ways:
- by hiking up the backside (which means you’ll hike down from the top), or
- by taking a cable car from Happy Isles station at Happy Valley; both routes take about 8-9 hours round trip with an elevation gain of about 4,000 feet.
When you’re in Yosemite National Park and want to get a good view, go to Glacier Point. This is the highest point in Yosemite Valley, so it’s easy to find. It also offers fantastic views of Half Dome and El Capitan as well as the High Sierra Mountains.
If you want to see Glacier Point but don’t want to hike there or drive there, you can take the shuttle bus that runs between Yosemite Valley Lodge (where most visitors stay) and Badger Pass Ski Area. The ride takes about thirty minutes each way on this scenic route which crosses over several bridges before winding its way through forested hillsides dotted with pine trees.
Visitors who are interested in camping at one of the park’s campsites can also access Glacier Point via another trailhead near Camp 4; however this route takes about four hours round trip by foot instead of just half an hour by car!
Indian Canyon / Upper Pines Campground
Indian Canyon is a great place to camp if you want to be near Yosemite Valley and the other major sites in Yosemite National Park, but don’t want to pay for a hostel or hotel. It’s located in the southern part of Yosemite National Park and offers free camping with limited space. There are no reservations required, so just show up when you’re ready! The campground itself has restrooms, potable water and showers available (but no electricity). If you have room for your car or RV, you’ll have access to dump station services as well–just remember that pets aren’t allowed at any campsites in Indian Canyon or Upper Pines Campgrounds!
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
A drive through the Mariposa Grove is an excellent way to experience the giant sequoias, as it’s free and you can walk on your own. If you want more of a hike, however, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well! The trails are clearly marked by signs at each junction.
The first stop is the parking lot on Panorama Drive—you’ll see lots of cars parked here if it’s a weekend or holiday. From here, there are four different hikes: one that leads up through the middle of all the trees; one that goes down towards Yosemite Creek; and two other shorter trails that will take you to different viewpoints within Mariposa Grove itself. They’re all worth taking at least once during your visit!
Wawona Meadow Loop [Open May to November]
- The Wawona Meadow Loop is a 9.5 mile trail that accesses the south end of Yosemite Valley. It’s a great way to see the park in one day, and you can hike as far as you want at your own pace!
- From May until November, this loop is open for hikers looking to explore Yosemite Valley from above (it starts at the Wawona Visitors Center).
- If you visit in late summer or fall months—when crowds are less likely—you may spot deer grazing on meadow grasses along this trail.
Olmsted Point and Tenaya Lake (near Tioga Pass)
Olmsted Point is a popular destination for people who want to see Yosemite Falls. Tenaya Lake is also a popular destination for people who want to see Yosemite Falls. It’s also a great area for hiking and fishing, as well as camping if you’d like to stay overnight!
You can have a great time in this National Park.
There are lots of ways to have fun in Yosemite National Park, especially if you love the great outdoors. You can hike, bike, boat, fish, ski, snowshoe and cross-country ski. If you’d rather stay on the ground instead of going up into the mountains or above tree line—or if you just want a break from being outdoors—you can visit Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point.
Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove that’s also home to some other interesting trees as well: sugar pines (not actually pines), white firs and incense cedars. This grove has been protected since 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill protecting it for posterity (and for himself).
You are now armed with distance, routes, pitstops, places of interests and what to do in Yosemite. Escape tight away and we hope you enjoy your trip to Yosemite National Park!