The best and easiest way to take an RV road trip to Yosemite National Park is in Mariposa County. Highway 140 the low elevation all-weather highway runs through historic Mariposa County directly from California’s Central Valley to Yosemite National Park. This route avoids the more treacherous curvy mountain pass routes of Highway’s 41 and 120, which can be difficult to navigate in a large RV or travel trailer. Mariposa County isn’t just a stop on the way to Yosemite on your RV travels though, it’s a place to visit all in its own!
So, pack up your supplies, get ready for RV life, and read our guide to an amazing Yosemite RV road trip. This can be part of a shorter outdoor adventure travel weekend, or a longer epic California National Parks road trip. No matter where you have your trip planned, Yosemite and Mariposa County can’t be missed.
RV Road Trip Stop One
Start your national park RV road trip early in the day and make the easy three-hour drive from California’s Bay Area to Lake McClure in the western reaches of Mariposa County.
This large, beautiful foothill lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains features great fishing, miles of shoreline and recreation areas. . Although there isn’t a full hook-up RV park, there are ample spots to stay the night in your RV in the area. Make it an overnight stay to spend some time fishing or get your heart pumping at the nearby Exchequer Mountain Bike Park. Take the historic John Muir Highway 132 from Lake McClure to Yosemite National Park. Make a stop on your journey to Yosemite in the Gold Rush town of Coulterville for a taste of what it feels like to walk through a town in the days of the Wild West.
RV Road Trip Stop Two
Yosemite National Park
Next, turn your attention to the grandest part of your journey, Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the United States. Ideally, you’ll want to spend a few days, or even a whole week, hiking, exploring and taking in the sights and sounds of Yosemite on your RV road trip.
Make time to soak in the towering cliffs of the Valley, the ancient trees of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and the high-country regions of Glacier Point and Tuolumne Meadows. The sights and experiences in Yosemite make it one of the most coveted stops on a California National Parks road trip. RV camping spots can be tough to secure in Yosemite National Park, but not to worry, places just outside the park, like Indian Flat Campground, are easier to obtain and place you near the park gates. (Note: vehicles over 45 feet in length cannot travel on Highway 140 between Briceburg and El Portal. Learn more about RV routes and RV camping in Yosemite.)
Inside Yosemite, the great activities and things to do are well documented and you could easily spend a week or longer there doing all sorts of different things that fit with any different type of skill and fitness level. Outside of Yosemite near Indian Flat RV Park, you’ll find many more great places to recreate like the Merced River Recreation Area where hiking, bike riding and swimming are all great activities. All along Highway 140 between Briceburg and El Portal are pull-outs for the Merced River where a quick scramble down to the water provides opportunities for swimming or just relaxing as the river peacefully rolls past you. In the spring, this area is also great for white water rafting and kayaking during your RV road trip!
RV Road Trip Stop Three
When your journey to Yosemite is finally over, you’ll want to make a stop along your RV route in historic Mariposa to experience the town’s history and culture. Mariposa’s interesting history make it a popular stop for RV road trips.
Take a walk through old town Mariposa and explore its shops and art galleries before making your way to the Mariposa County History Center to experience the impact that the early days of the California Gold Rush had on the region. Make it a full day by grabbing a bite to eat and a drink at any of the great restaurants in Mariposa like 1850 Restaurant and Brewery, Savoury’s Restaurant and Happy Burger Diner. There’s so much to do in Mariposa that you may be wondering if you can camp in your RV somewhere nearby. Luckily, the Mariposa County Fairgrounds offers RV & tent camping just one mile from the town of Mariposa.
Great recreation activities to complete your outdoor adventure travels are nearby as well. Try the Stockton Creek Preserve which is home to great and challenging hiking through the Sierra Nevada foothills. Also not far from town is Skydive Yosemite which takes you up to views over the Sierra and Yosemite’s icons like Half Dome and El Capitan before you literally take the leap and fall back to earth under the safety of a canopy. You can also get a taste of what it was like for the early pioneers that helped settle the area we know today by heading out and doing some gold panning, where you might just strike it rich on your California National Parks road trip!