empty road with large granite rocks

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip Itinerary [The Best Stops]

  • The drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park entrance takes 2.5 to 3 hours (124 miles) without stops and about an additional 2 hours to get to the visitor center, a total travel time of 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • The scenic route is through Highway 395, which includes stops at Mono Lake and Tuolumne Meadows, while Highway 50 is your only option if driving in the winter.
  • We don’t recommend doing this as a day trip, as you will spend a lot of time in the car and not enough time at the park.

If you hope to travel from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite, you will need to know some key details about seasonal road closures and transportation options.

The challenge is knowing which route to take, as some options are only open during the summer, while others can take several extra hours.

I make this trip from South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite many times each year, as these are two of my favorite destinations in California.

We included everything you will need to know for this scenic trip, from the best routes to amazing stops along the way.

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In this Post

This comprehensive Lake Tahoe to Yosemite road trip itinerary covers several sections in detail, but here are the highlights if you want to skip around:

large granite rock reflection on the lake

How far is Yosemite from Lake Tahoe?

The drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park entrance takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, covering 124 miles.

However, setting your destination to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is more accurate, which will take around 4.5 to 5.5 hours from Lake Tahoe.

Distance from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite

  • Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park Tioga Pass Entrance: 124 miles, 2.5 hours
  • Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Valley Visitor Cente via Tioga Pass: 187 miles, 4.5 hours

Driving from South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park is a shorter drive than leaving from the northern part of the lake, which will add around 30 minutes.

It’s best to jump off and cover the 180-plus mile distance as early as you can, as traffic may get heavier the closer you are to the park’s entrance. 

A 4 AM start time will bring you to Yosemite National Park entrance at around 8:30 AM. 

Realistically, it will take much longer as the wait to enter the park at the visitor center can add up to an additional hour or two, depending on the time of the year. 

This doesn’t take into consideration any stops along the way for sightseeing, gas, or a roadside meal.

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip Itinerary

  • Scenic Route via 395 Tioga Pass: 4:40 hours, 187 miles
  • Winter Route via 50W/ 49S/ 120E: 5 hrs, 206 miles

*Directions are from South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Valley Visitor Center

road trip to yosemite

This itinerary includes two different routes you can take for your drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park. 

The Scenic Route goes through Hwy 395 and takes about 2.5 hours to 3 hours to get to Yosemite National Park Tioga Pass (East) Entrance.

However, it takes an additional 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the heart of the Valley (Visitor Center), where most of the attractions are, making it 4 to 4.5 hours total.

The second option, the Winter Route, goes through Hwy 50 when Tioga Pass is closed and takes about 5 hours to arrive at the Visitor Center through the Big Oak Flat Entrance.

Although this route is a bit longer drive and less scenic, you get more gas options, food, and restrooms. 

Drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite: Best Places to Stop

Scenic Route (395 S – Tioga Pass)Winter Route (120 E)
Topaz LakePlacerville
Bodie State Historic ParkPlymouth
Mono LakeSonora
Lee Vining (optional overnight stay)Jamestown
Tuolomne MeadowsColumbia
Pothole DomeGroveland
Tenaya LakeRainbow Pools
Olmstead Point
Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip Stops

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Scenic Drive

  • Description: Direct route but only available from late May to early November, 4:40 hrs without stops
  • Yosemite Entrance: Tioga Pass (East) Entrance
road with views of yosemite

This scenic route for your Lake Tahoe to Yosemite road trip starts with the beautiful Tahoe mountains, forests, and the lake’s crystal-clear waters in your rearview. 

As you reach Kingsbury Grade, the landscape will start to transition from the greens of the forest to the browns and beiges of the barren eastern mountains and the desert. 

Here you’ll find panoramic views of the area with the dramatic Sierra Nevada peaks at the backdrop. 

📸 Make sure to pull over in one of the turnouts and take a snapshot or two of this jaw-dropping view. 

Passing through the mountain desert, you’ll soon start weaving your way back into the mountains as you make your way up the Tioga Pass. 

This mountain pass may seem inhospitable at first, but it will get more beautiful as you approach Yosemite National Park’s entrance.

Road Trip to Yosemite from Tahoe Tips

  • Make sure to fill up on gas before you leave, as gas stations on this route are few and far between. 
  • Also, check for weather updates, road conditions, and park announcements, especially if you’re traveling in early June or closer to November.
  • If the weather turns bad over the passes, you will need to adapt and make adequate changes to your itinerary.

❄️ A Note on Tioga Pass – The Tioga Pass over the mountain from 395 to Yosemite is part of this route and is only open for a portion of the year when the snow has been cleared. The pass opens around late May to early June and is open through the middle of November, so make sure to check the opening and closing day as it is different every year.

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite via 395 Tioga Pass: Best Places to Stop

  • Food – Mono Cone and Latte Da Cafe at Lee Vining
  • Gas – Topaz Lake, Bridgeport, Lee Vining, intersection at Tioga Pass and Big Oak Flat Road 
  • Restrooms – same as gas stations and at Mono Lake Visitor Center

After exploring the trails and attractions of the picturesque mountain lake, you can choose your starting point for your Lake Tahoe to Yosemite scenic drive. 

You can start your drive from either the North or South Shore. 

The southern route happens to be at least a half-hour shorter, which is important, especially if you’re trying to beat traffic. 

No matter which starting point you choose, make sure to fill up on gas as it can get difficult to find gas stations along the route.

Topaz Lake

topaz color lake
Topaz Lake

Located just an hour away from South Lake Tahoe, this man-made lake is a good place to stretch your legs after starting your early drive. 

The Topaz Lake Recreation Area has a trail leading to a viewpoint overlooking the lake where you can take a quick photo before making your way back down to the day-use areas. 

Uncrowded, quiet, and peaceful, you can spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy your morning coffee and breakfast while taking in beautiful mountain views. 

Make sure to pay the $5 day-use fee at the self-pay kiosk located at the park’s entrance. 

Bodie State Historic Park

Continue your drive east of Highway 395 to the Bodie State Historic Park and visit California’s official State Gold Rush Ghost Town. 

This once prosperous town from the 1800s has been preserved in “arrested decay, ” making for a unique yet surreal experience. 

The town feels abandoned, as if the residents suddenly got up and left, leaving most of their things behind. 

You’ll find intact structures here still decorated and stocked, albeit dusty. 

It would take at least 2 hours to fully explore the remaining 110 structures, for an $8 entrance fee.

Mono Lake

rock formations on a lake

Mono Lake is famous for its unique limestone rock formations known as tufas, which you can see in varying degrees depending on how high or low the lake’s water is. 

You can start exploring this 760,000-year-old wonder at the Visitor Center, where you learn more about the lake and the unique natural phenomenon that made it what it is today. 

It is free to visit this state park but make sure to bring a change of shoes, as your current pair will definitely get muddy while exploring the lakeshore.

This is not a swimming lake, but if you don’t mind its salty and smelly water, you can try and experience its floating powers.

Stay one night in Lee Vining

Just in case you left Lake Tahoe later than you planned or you ended up spending a lot of time exploring scenic spots along the way, you can stay overnight in Lee Vining

Located less than 5 minutes from Mono Lake, you can choose to end your day here, which will offer the opportunity to catch the sunset and take epic shots of the tufas on the lake. 

Start your day nice and early by getting a tasty breakfast at the Latte Da Cafe, where they serve great-tasting organic coffee.

🌲 Local Tip: Stay the night in Lee Vining and leave by 5:30 am to be one of the first to arrive at the eastern entrance to the park. This early arrival will significantly reduce the wait time to enter Yosemite, if not eliminate it altogether.

Where to Stay in Lee Vining:

Tuolomne Meadows

After you enter Yosemite National Park you will come up on Tuolomne Meadows, which is a must-visit gem inside the park. 

The alpine meadow is less famous than nearby Yosemite Valley, where most visitors end up going, so expect this place to be quieter and less crowded

It’s easy to spend a good few hours here just taking in the beautiful and picture-worthy views of its crystal clear streams and surrounding domed mountains. 

The Tuolumne River, Lyell For, and Dana Fork flow through here, which adds more to its tranquil atmosphere. 

Pothole Dome

Look to the west of Tuolumne Meadows, and you will see a large white granite peak known as Pothole Dome.

Named after the pothole-shaped holes in the granite, you can hike up the easy and short trail to the top, where you can take stunning panoramic pictures of the meadows below. 

There are no designated trails, but it’s easy to spot the incline leading to the top. 

The one-mile hike would take about 30 minutes, but you can easily spend several hours exploring the area.

Tenaya Lake

lake by the road

Tenaya Lake is located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows and can be easily accessed via Tioga Road. 

This mile-long alpine lake is lined with granite peaks and domes and has a sandy beach at the east end where you can sunbathe and swim. 

Hike the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead to access the west end, which has a beautiful view of the lake, a nice beach, and an island you can wade to. 

Olmsted Point

If you’re driving from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite via the Tioga Pass, make sure to include Olmsted Point as one of your stopovers. 

Considered one of the best Yosemite vistas, this spot offers a unique view of the Half Dome and Clouds Rest. 

The quarter-mile hike up to the viewpoint will take most people less than 20 minutes, which means this is a great short stop with a big payoff

But be informed, this area is also considered very dangerous during winter due to the risk of avalanches.

empty road with mountains in the background
Olstead Point Road

Yosemite National Park

You have reached your destination. 

Although, getting into Yosemite National Park might take some time, especially if you’re visiting during the peak season. 

The park’s road is mostly one-way so before you even get in, make sure to finalize your itinerary inside the park so you can plan your stops here accordingly. 

Backtracking can chew up a lot of time as you have to loop around the valley floor. 

💲 Entrance to the park is $35 per vehicle and is valid for seven days

This is great since it’s best to spend at least two days here exploring its 3,027 square km area of sequoia forests, granite cliffs, lakes, and waterfalls. 

However, if you really can’t spare more than a day, there are plenty of guided tours you can book that will take you around the park’s highlights all within the same day.

Winter Route for Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip

  • Description: Available year-round, 5 hrs without stops
  • Yosemite Entrance: Big Oak Flat Entrance

If you are driving from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite in the late fall or winter, then this route is your best option.

This alternate route starts from South Lake Tahoe, onto 50 West, then 49 South, then 120 East.

This route has a slightly longer drive time, and unlike Highway 395 through the Tioga Pass, this is not as scenic, stops are less noteworthy, but you do get more options for gas, food, and restroom stops.

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Drive via 120E: Best Places to Stop

  • Gas: Placerville, Jackson, Big Oak Flat 
  • Food: Timmy’s Brown Bag (Placerville), Amador Vintage Market (Plymouth), Iron Door Saloon (Groveland)
empty freeway


Placerville is an old gold rush town that’s now known more for its surrounding vineyards, and its charming family-owned restaurants. 

Stepping into its historic downtown, you’ll be fascinated by how the old perfectly merges with the new giving it a bit of an old world charm but with some more modern fixtures. 

Drop by Timmy’s Brown Bag and make sure to grab some deliciously fun sandwiches or visit Pachamama for a cup of freshly roasted coffee.


Plymouth is a city in the heart of the Amador County wine country that is home to 42 amazing wineries, including highly acclaimed Terra Rouge and Vino Noceto. 

Visit Amador Vintage market and have your pick of gourmet deli sandwiches, artisan cheese, homemade snacks, and other road trip food essentials that will keep you full during your trip.


Sonora is a charming gold rush town with a historic downtown that is now brimming with quaint shops, restaurants, and cafes that you can visit for a short break from driving. 

This town is a great stopover as it has all the modern amenities mixed with the historic downtown offering everything from full grocery stores to Gianelli Vineyard, which is a famous winery in the area.

old building


Jamestown was the first goldrush hotspot in Tuolumne County, and many of its historic buildings from the 1870s and 1880s now house boutique inns, shops, breweries, and restaurants which have managed to preserve its classic old town charm. 

Railtown State Historic Park is also located here, which you might want to check out if you have enough time to take a longer stop or if you have a railroad enthusiast in your group.


Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Columbia is a living gold rush town where you can spend the day exploring. 

Fun activities include panning for gold, riding stagecoaches, or visiting unique shops reminiscent of gold rush town shops of old. 

The Columbia State Historic Park is a well-preserved look back at a bygone era. 

Before continuing on your drive, you can take a guided tour that starts at 11:00 at the museum, where you will learn about the town’s rich gold rush history.

Rainbow Pools


Once known as the “Garrote, ” the Spanish word for strangulation, Groveland was once famous for executing swift justice from its large oak tree. 

The town’s dark history is in the past and now welcomes visitors who enjoy all the amenities this town has to offer. 

Visit the Iron Door Saloon for a drink along with some lively music at the county’s only historic building built with granite blocks and the oldest saloon in California.

Rainbow Pools

Located outside of Yosemite National Park, Rainbow Pool is a series of natural swimming holes and waterfalls found along the south fork of the Tuolumne River. 

This is a great place to cool off from the heat as you can either dip your toes in the water or take an actual plunge in its deep waters. 

For Bay Area residents, you can visit Rainbow Pools on your way back from Yosemite if you happen to be taking this same route.

Yosemite National Park to Lake Tahoe Road Trip

lake with granite mountain in the backdrop
Lake Convict off Hwy 395

Once you’ve had your dose of Yosemite’s beautiful natural wonders, exploring plunging waterfalls, strolling under towering sequoia trees, and taking in the sheer wonder of the park’s granite monoliths, you can drive through Tioga Pass back to Lake Tahoe. 

This route has too many beautiful attractions and stops for one visit, and there is a good chance that you may have missed a few on your way to Yosemite. 

Don’t worry, you can simply reverse the route and hit the spots you missed, or you can even opt to spend a bit more time in the Eastern Sierras. 

Take your time on your road trip to Lake Tahoe and visit June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Lake Convict, as these stops are worthy of a detour. 

Yosemite to Lake Tahoe Alternate Route via Wawona Road

glacier point road yosemite

If the Wawona road is open, you can take this route to drive back to Lake Tahoe, allowing you to visit different stops.

On your way out of the park, make sure to stop by Glacier Point for jaw-dropping views of the valley and Mariposa Grove and see the ancient giant redwoods in Yosemite.

From there, you will continue on Hwy 49 through Mariposa, where you can stop at Happy Burger Diner for some delicious burgers.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even stop by Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold and explore some caves in the nearby area.

🚘 Driving from San Francisco? Read this road trip itinerary from San Francisco to Yosemite, or this itinerary if you want to stop by Lake Tahoe from SF. If you want a longer trip, you can do a road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite.

Planning your road trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true if you want to make the most of your scenic road trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe. 

Make sure to plan for the basics, like knowing where you can buy gas or good spots to stop for lunch, which will make for a stress-free and fun road trip. 

A little extra planning in advance will lead to having as memorable a time on the road to Yosemite as you will have when you arrive.

Entrance Reservations

Yosemite National Park currently does not require reservations to enter the park.

There is a $35 entrance fee per vehicle that is good for 7 consecutive days.

If you happen to be an outdoor enthusiast and you are planning to visit more than one national park within the year, it might be more convenient and cost-effective just to get an America the Beautiful Annual Pass

The pass allows you entry to all 63 national parks in the country without making individual reservations.

🏆 Local Tip: If you get your National Park Pass from REI, they will donate 10% of the proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.

Time of the Year

The best time of the year to visit Yosemite Valley and Yosemite National Park via the scenic Tioga Road route is during summer

However, it can be very crowded during this time so expect more traffic, long lines, and a longer drive time. 

Summer is the best time to make this road trip as there’s a greater possibility that the road is open to pass through as weather and seasons tend to affect road conditions. 

If the Tioga Pass is closed, you will have to take the alternate route that runs along Highway 50, 49, then 120 to the western entrance to the park.

Read this section to find out the best time to visit Yosemite.

Driving to Yosemite in the Winter

Visiting Yosemite in the winter is a magical part of the year to visit as the domed peaks, and the valley’s trees will be flocked with snow. 

If you don’t mind braving the cold and snow to visit the park, make sure that you drive an AWD or 4WD or bring chains with you

You can also rent snow chains along Highway 120 if needed, but they will be expensive. 

Road access can be very challenging when there is a snowstorm, and without proper equipment, you might end up getting stranded. 

▶ If you need to rent an AWD or 4WD, make sure to check RentalCars.com for the best deals.

Food, Gas, and Restrooms

No road trip is complete without eating some tasty grub along the way. 

However, going through the Tioga Pass, you should know that there are minimal food, gas, and restroom options along the way. 

To avoid getting too hungry during the drive, make sure to pack snacks and drinks in an ice chest and maybe just stop for meals at larger towns along the way. 

Also, as much as possible, fill up your tank before the trip, as gas prices tend to be more expensive the closer you get to Yosemite National Park.

Packing Food in your Car

If you can’t avoid leaving food in your car, keep it in an ice chest in your trunk to prevent bears from breaking into your vehicle.

If you park in a well-trafficked area, this isn’t too big of an issue but try to avoid it if possible.


Can you do a day trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe?

It is not recommended to do a day trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe.

The direct route from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite will normally only take about 4.5 to 5.5 hours, so you might be tempted to think it’s possible. 

However, you still have to account for the stops you make, traffic, and possible long wait times at the entrance.

If you’re visiting Yosemite in the summer or on a weekend, you should plan on waiting at least an hour at the entrance

This will make for a very long drive and spending about 9 to 11 hours in the car, at the bare minimum. 

Considering your total driving time and park entrance wait, you’ll only end up with a couple of hours to explore, so it might be best to stay somewhere close to Yosemite, such as Lee Vining.

  • Spend the night in Lee Vining

You can think of Lee Vining as the halfway mark between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. 

From this small town, you can reach the park in about two hours, so if you decide to stay here for the night, you can leave in the morning and arrive at the park entrance early enough that you will have ample time to explore. 

If you leave Lake Tahoe early, you can reach Lee Vining with plenty of daylight to spare. 

This will allow you enough time to go on a day trip to see the lakes in Mammoth as well as June Lake and Convict Lake.

If you’d rather spend the night in a different town, Mammoth Lakes is a great place to stay if you have more time on your hands to explore the area.

The drive from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite Park entrance is only 45 minutes which makes for a good base.

🏨 Book your stay at El Mono Motel & Latte Da Coffee Cafe or Murphy’s Motel.

Driving in Yosemite National Park

Driving your own car or having a rental gives you the most flexibility to visit the different sites in the park.

However, parking can be a nightmare especially if you visit during the peak season.

It’s best to arrive early to secure a spot and use the free Yosemite Valley shuttle to get around the park.

As an alternative, you can take a Lake Tahoe to Yosemite tour.

Long wait time at the park entrance

Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Tours

If you want to avoid the hassle of planning a road trip from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite or you just don’t want to drive, you might want to check out this small group tour

This full-day guided tour features top scenic highlights between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and condense them enough that you get to relax and enjoy them without feeling too hurried. 

However, this tour follows a fixed itinerary which might not include stops you want to visit.

Practical Tips for a Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip

  1. Leave early

You will want to leave really early if you plan on making some stops along the way from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite. 

This might leave you enough time to see some of the National Park on your driving day. 

The entrance to Yosemite National Park starts to get crowded early, which can add 30 minutes to three hours to your trip if you arrive too late.

  1. Download an offline map due to low reception.

The route to Yosemite via Tioga Pass may be very scenic, but this route has little to no cell phone service. 

So, make sure to download an offline map of the route and the stops you plan on taking, so you won’t have a hard time navigating or end up getting lost.

  1. Make sure to set your destination as Yosemite Valley Visitor Center

Setting your final destination to Yosemite National Park does not guarantee accurate directions. 

Instead, input Yosemite Valley Visitor Center for more accurate driving directions to the heart of the valley floor.

blue lake with snow capped mountains
  1. Bring an ice chest for your food and drinks

The route through the Tioga Pass doesn’t have a lot of food options, so it might be best to fill up an ice chest with your choice of meals, snacks, and drinks. 

This will prevent you from wasting time looking for food or drinks on the road and allow you to enjoy the drive. 

This ice chest is big enough to fit sandwiches and drinks for 2-4 people, which is just enough to get you to Yosemite. 

Freeze a couple of water bottles so you’re sure to have ice-cold water, and it also acts as extra ice for your ice chest. 

  1. Download some music

No road trip is complete without some music. 

If you have a Spotify subscription, make sure to download your favorite playlists so you can access them any time, especially since there will not be any cell service on large sections of this popular route. 

  1. Take a motion sickness pill

Driving from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite will take at least four and a half hours, and some stretches include winding roads. 

For any passengers that get nauseous on windy roads, they might want to take a motion sickness pill like Dramamine

This will protect your passengers from getting sick, so they can enjoy this scenic road trip.

What to pack for your Lake Tahoe to Yosemite Road Trip

  1. Yosemite National Park Map
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Bug Spray
  4. Power Bank
  5. Snacks
  6. Road Trip Emergency kit
  7. Ice Chest

Best time to visit Yosemite

fall colors with large granite rock

If you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit Yosemite would be around late May and October

Late Spring is a great time to visit Yosemite as the waterfalls will be flowing at full capacity from the snow melt and the crowds will be minimal. 

Yosemite in the Fall is peaceful as the tourists are gone for the season, and you might even get lucky and see the valley with the season’s first dusting of snow. 

Take note also that many of the roads and trails in Yosemite are closed for most of the year due to heavy snow that can come as early as October and stay until March.

Summer is the best time for great sunny weather and accessibility to all sections of the park.

This also happens to be the busiest, so make sure to plan your time accordingly. 

It’s also worth mentioning that going on a weekday is much better than a weekend for fewer crowds.

Top Things to do in Yosemite National Park

  • Lower Yosemite Falls
  • Sentinel Bridge
  • Cook’s Meadow
  • Vernal and Nevada Falls
  • Swinging Bridge
  • El Capitan Meadow
  • Tunnel View
  • Glacier Point
yosemite national park

How many days do you need in Yosemite?

You want to spend at least two full days in Yosemite National Park to have enough time to see the major sites.

You could easily spend the better part of a decade exploring this national park and not see all of its wonders. 

For the vast majority of visitors to Yosemite National Park, their time is limited to a few days or even an overnight trip where they will see a few highlights as they rush through the park, exhausted from the drive. 

The best option if time is limited is to stay two nights, which will offer just enough time to see the natural attractions in the valley and visit one of the giant Sequoia groves before you go. 

If you are the adventurous type and you like to hike, give yourself an extra couple of days to head up the trails to different viewpoints and destinations in the park, removed from the chaos of the crowded valley floor.

READ MORE: If you have more time, why not do a road trip to Sequoia National Park after Yosemite?

Where to Stay in Yosemite

Yosemite and the surrounding areas offer many types of accommodations all-year round. 

However, if you’re planning to visit during peak season and want to stay in the Valley or inside the park, make sure to secure your accommodation at least six months in advance

If you try booking closer to your travel date, securing lodgings near or in the park will be virtually impossible. 

If you want to book within the six-month window, you will most likely need to stay in one of the many towns surrounding the park.

⭐ The following hotels are the best options we recommend for staying outside the park: 

rustic lodge in the woods

Yosemite Bug is located inMidpines, about an hour’s drive (35 miles) to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.

This highly-rated resort is quietly situated on an oak forest hillside and offers multiple accommodation types, such as dorm rooms, private room cabins, and tent cabins with shared bathrooms.

This is a well-priced rustic lodge that features an on-site restaurant and spa with a super chill and laidback vibe.

After a full day of exploring the park, this is a perfect place to relax and meet other travelers. 

If you don’t want to worry about driving and parking, the shuttle bus to Yosemite (YARTS) stops here, so staying here makes it extra convenient. 

What is YARTS? A public bus service that connects various cities such as Mariposa, Merced, Fresno, Sonora to Yosemite National Park. It has several hotel stops along Highway 140, as well as Mariposa and El Portal. See schedule.

➡️ Local Tip: Your bus ticket includes an entrance to Yosemite so you can save some money this way. See fares here.

Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite located in Groveland is about 27 miles or 45 minutes from the Valley. 

This 3-star hotel has plenty of amenities such as a seasonal outdoor pool, children’s playground, and two hot tubs – one for families and one that is adults-only.

There is also a restaurant and bar on-site, so you can grab a bite before heading to the park and enjoy a nice meal at the end of your day with some s’mores by the fireplace.

Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn is about a 1.5-hour drive to the Visitor Center located closest to the South Entrance on Hwy 41. 

If you’re traveling with a group or your family, this Inn offers rooms and suites that can accommodate up to 8 people, and a delicious hot breakfast is included with your stay. 

This cozy accommodation features an indoor pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, free Wi-Fi, and an on-site restaurant.

As an added bonus, this lodging near Yosemite is also pet-friendly.


How long is the drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite?

The drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite covers a distance of around 180 miles and would take a drive time of around 4.5 to 5.5 hours. 

If you’re traveling during peak season, make sure to leave early to get ahead of the crowd and beat the lines at the Yosemite National Park entrance.

How is the drive from Tahoe to Yosemite?

The drive from Tahoe to Yosemite, via Highway 395 through the Tioga Pass, can be a bit windy but very scenic. 

With so many beautiful natural attractions and viewpoints along the way, you will definitely want to make a few stops.

How many days do you need in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe?

Yosemite and Lake Tahoe can be visited during a single day trip, but this is not enough time to see and experience either destination. 

With so many stunning natural attractions and activities, spending at least two to three days in each location would be best.

Wrap-Up: Road Trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe

Making the most of your 4.5 to 5.5-hour drive is the goal of this Lake Tahoe to Yosemite itinerary. 

With plenty of beautiful spots to discover and explore along the way, it’s best to have an already-planned itinerary to avoid wasting valuable time in the National Park. 

So what are you waiting for? Use this itinerary and plan out your trip today.


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