Published on April 29, 2022

Today, getting to Yosemite Mariposa County is a routine road trip, but it wasn’t always so. Intrepid early travelers would come by foot, horseback, stagecoach, wagon, railroad, and first-generation automobiles along axel-bending dirt roads. The oft-grueling journey didn’t ease up until the late 1920s, when State Route 140 – the “All-Weather Highway” – opened to allow reliable year-round vehicle access to Yosemite National Park.

Park & Ride with YARTS

YARTS bus in Yosemite Valley
Let YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transport Service) carry you into Yosemite reservation-free.

Leave the driving to YARTS, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, where a seat on a comfortable, air-conditioned bus includes Park entrance fee.

YARTS provides service from most Yosemite Mariposa County communities. Along Highway 140, there are multiple stops near hotels in Mariposa, Midpines and El Portal. Free parking is available in Mariposa and Midpines at Park & Ride facilities for day, overnight and multi-day uses. Additionally, YARTS serves the Highway 41 corridor with a stop at Fish Camp. Use the complete YARTS route map and schedules to plan your trip. Reservations are highly recommended to ensure your preferred return trip time from Yosemite Valley is locked in.

To fully embrace Yosemite car-free, take Greyhound or AMTRAK to Merced and connect with YARTS from there. By leaving your vehicle behind and taking YARTS, you’ll experience an enhanced, car-free experience rolling into your Yosemite vacation – with the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint on the Park.

Ride the Yosemite Valley Shuttle

Free Yosemite Valley Shuttle bus
Once in Yosemite Valley, the free shuttle bus provides an easy way to see all the sights.

After YARTS gets you into the Park, the ever-popular Yosemite Valley Shuttle System takes things from there with free and convenient rides on eco-friendly buses. The shuttles stop in Yosemite Valley at, or near, all overnight accommodations and stores. The system map is available online, detailing all services including seasonal lines to Southern Yosemite destinations Wawona and Mariposa Grove.

You can also take a two-hour long “Yosemite Valley Floor Tour”, staffed with a National Park Service interpretive ranger. These tours can be booked in advance and depart and return from the transportation center at Yosemite Lodge, in Yosemite Valley.

For destinations in Northern Yosemite, there’s the Tuolumne Meadows shuttle, typically running mid-June through mid-September (dates vary from year to year based on Tioga Road status; fare required).

Take a Tour, Catch a Class

Yosemite 360 Tours from Tenaya at Yosemite at Tunnel View

Visitors participating in a private or group tour do not require a separate Yosemite park reservation. There is a wide variety of tours into the Park, offered by operators throughout Yosemite Mariposa County including Discover Yosemite, Incredible Adventures, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite Tours, and Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures.

Signing up for one of Yosemite Conservancy’s heralded Outdoor Adventures or art classes, retreats and workshops includes Park entry for the duration of the program.  Go full shutterbug and take a Yosemite Valley photography class with the Ansel Adams Gallery.

To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.

Categories: General Travel Tips, Summer, Travel and Transportation