Entrances and Driving Options
One of nine national parks in California, Yosemite is located in the central part of the state, approximately 200 miles east of San Francisco. The Yosemite area is like a world of its own, with villages and towns, numerous lakes and waterfalls, residents who live inside the park boundaries, and millions of visitors in the summer months. It is a good idea to have a map of Yosemite when visiting, to help find your way around this expansive and adventure-packed national park.
Looking on a map of Yosemite, one sees the surrounding communities of Oakhurst to the south, Mariposa to the southwest, and Groveland to the west. There are other small towns in the Yosemite area as well larger towns like Modesto, Fresno, and Mariposa. The park itself covers nearly 1200 square miles and has its own ZIP code, 95389. Due to the park’s expansive size, there is no simple physical Yosemite park address. To contact the park by mail, determine the appropriate office or organization or write the National Park Service.
Entering Yosemite National Park
There are five entrances into the park, allowing visitors access from all directions. Many travelers choose an entrance based on what area of the park they wish to visit. Yosemite is divided into four main areas, each with its own attractions and features. The areas are often noted on a Yosemite map, and are identified as Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne and Tioga Road, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona and Glacier Point.
The South entrance to the park is off of Highway 41 north from Fresno. It continues on to Yosemite Valley. It is open all year. Highway 140 west from Merced leads to Arch Rock entrance and the El Portal road, which also continues into the Valley. The Big Oak Flat entrance is accessed from Highway 120 West out of Manteca and Modesto. It leads to Yosemite Valley and Tioga Road. West of the Big Oak Flat Entrance, off the Evergreen Road is the Hetch Hetchy entrance. It gives visitors access to Hetch Hetchy Valley via Hetch Hetchy Road. All four of these entrances are open year round, but winter conditions may result in a need for tire chains.
The Tioga Pass entrance, which is located off Highway 120 East from Lee Vining and Highway 395, is only open during summer months. Located in the Sierra Nevadas, much of Yosemite is mountainous and weather can be wild and unpredictable at times. It is a good idea to check road conditions for this and other entrances before arriving.
Yosemite National Park Directions
There are several ways to get to Yosemite, depending on your point of departure and time of year. From the east and areas such as Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, the Tioga Pass entrance provides the most direct option in the summer months. In the winter, it is often best to drive to Fresno first and approach through the South entrance. This is also the typical route for those approaching the Yosemite area from Los Angeles.
The Tioga Pass is also a good choice for summer guests coming from areas to the North, such as Reno and Lake Tahoe. In the winter, travelers from that direction often go first to Sacramento, and then on to Manteca where they can take Highway 120 east to the Big Oak Flat Entrance.
Yosemite is southeast from the San Francisco area, with I-580 being the most direct route to I-205 and then Highway 120 to the Big Flat Oak entrance.
Yosemite Valley Map
Several of the roads from the park entrances lead to Yosemite Valley. This is the most visited section of the park, situated in the shadows of towering rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and home to Yosemite Falls, the world’s fifth tallest waterfall. Yosemite Valley is the administrative and informational center for the park and is often the starting point for unforgettable adventures in this magnificent wilderness area.
The park’s website has a printable map of the shuttle bus route in Yosemite Valley that also shows roads, trailheads, bike paths, campgrounds, restrooms, lodging and other locations and services. It is quite detailed and looking at this map; you can see some of the popular destinations in Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Village, Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge, The Ahwahnee Hotel, LeConte Memorial Lodge, Lower River amphitheater, and the visitor center.
Although it is not to scale, this map of Yosemite Valley also shows the locations of Half Dome, Mirror Lake, and Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in relation to the rest of the valley. It is a good general resource to help get a visual idea of the layout of the park. To access the map, go to the park’s website and click on the link for driving directions and look for the link to a basic map of the valley. This section of the website also provides a basic road map of the major roads entering the park as well as other helpful Yosemite information.