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San Francisco to Yosemite National Park Road Trip

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587.6 miles: 13 hours, 23 minutes
Modern-day visitors embarking on a road trip through Yosemite National Park and the western Sierra Nevadas will delight in an awe-inspiring landscape of majestic waterfalls, imposing granite cliffs and ancient sequoias that has thrilled adventurers and travelers since even before President Lincoln decreed the mountainous region protected public lands in 1864.
1
San Francisco to Yosemite Visitor Center
204.2 miles: 4 hours, 26 minutes
The first half of this leg is a freeway journey that begins with a San Francisco Bay crossing over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s eastern section, which opened in 2013. The route follows I-580 through Altamont Pass, home to the highest number of wind turbines in the world. After leaving Escalon, the impressive ascent of the western Sierra Nevadas awaits you via SR 120.
2
Yosemite Visitor Center to Bridgeport
131.5 miles: 3 hours, 40 minutes
The Tioga Pass descent from Yosemite to US 395 is breathtakingly rapid, dropping some 3,200 feet in just 12 miles. For a glimpse of nature’s unusual handiwork before heading toward Lee Vining, explore the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. A trail provides perfect vistas of the lake’s limestone towers soaring up out of the water.
3
Bridgeport to Sonora
114.0 miles: 2 hours, 29 minutes
US 395 offers a picturesque jaunt through the imposing mountain-rung Bridgeport Valley. Past Bridgeport, follow the signs to Fales Hot Springs, where thermal waters delight visitors. SR 108 ascends the 9,624-foot Sonora Pass and offers impressive views before dropping into Sonora. At Donnell Vista, a short walk rewards hikers with a glimpse of the Stanislaus River Canyon.
4
Sonora to San Francisco
137.8 miles: 2 hours, 47 minutes
It’s only a short drive from Sonora to Yosemite Junction, so spend some time in historic Jamestown before retracing your steps on SR 120 toward San Francisco. Here you’ll find several 1800s-era buildings and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Also nearby is Knights Ferry, home to California‘s oldest general store and the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi.