Published on August 2, 2023

Yosemite National Park is one of the West’s most revered wilderness attractions. From the soaring symphony of Yosemite Valley to the super flora of Mariposa Grove, from edge-of-the-world overlooks such as Olmsted and Glacier Points to waterfalls everywhere, Yosemite is A-list for travelers of all ages.

For seasoned senior travelers, getting to Yosemite can be tricky. There are challenging driving conditions on unfamiliar roads. The sheer scale of the Park means that there is an epic amount of ground to cover between highlight vistas.  While these challenges can be conquered with nuanced and careful planning, there is a simpler solution: go with a guided tour.

Why Tours Make Sense for Seniors

Winter at Yosemite
Yosemite in winter is a site to behold. Take the stress out of the visit by traveling on a tour.

Guided tours provide convenience, camaraderie, safety, and local expertise. They take driving, maps, and logistics out of the equation, for starters.  Add luxury vehicles and fantastic guides onboard to show you the way – instead of staring at maps, you’re gazing out your window at all the stunning scenery.  Here are some of the leading tour operators in Yosemite Mariposa County and a preview of their offers:

Incredible Adventures

Incredible Adventures tours set off from as far away as San Francisco to make getting to Yosemite extra easy. Photo: Incredible Adventures

One of the most innovative and respected tour operators in Yosemite, Incredible Adventures is a San Francisco-based company founded in 1993.  Today they offer day tours from San Francisco to Yosemite and amazing Yosemite overnight adventures from El Portal or Mariposa aboard biofuel Ford Sprinter vans and other upscale vehicles, depending on group size. Seniors can book themselves or go with their senior “squad” for small-group fun.

The Yosemite Overnight Lodging Tour is a great example. Over three days and two nights, guests marvel over the most famous vistas in Yosemite National Park. The arrival day includes a Yosemite Valley loop including preferred parking with short walks to Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls, before drop-offs at a choice of prime accommodations including The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Curry Village. The epic second day includes excursions to Glacier Point and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, before returning to the Valley for flexible afternoon touring. Incredible Adventures is the only tour operator that has reserved room blocks at high-demand Yosemite Valley properties for its guests. Early booking discounts, too.

The company’s experienced and engaging guides are Park insiders with deep Yosemite knowledge. They also know where everything is in the Park – including those ever-elusive bathrooms. They are on call for anything that might come up between hotel drop off and pick up, with a 24-hour emergency phone line always on for senior travelers and their families.

Discover Yosemite Tours

Discover Yosemite, Inc.
Explore Yosemite with a knowledgeable local guide. Photo: Discover Yosemite, Inc.

Discover Yosemite Tours offers full-day Yosemite Guided Tours with convenient pick-up locations at hotels in Oakhurst, Bass Lake, Coarsegold, and Fish Camp.  Hop on board, sit back, and savor the Park’s most celebrated corners.  Discover Yosemite’s guides are renowned for their expertise and good humor.  Park entry, picnic lunch, and beverages are all included in the tour fee.

Specializing in senior small-group and private tours, Discover Yosemite Tours utilizes one of the most recognizable fleets in the Park ranging from Cadillac Escalades to 27-passenger mini-touring vans, each equipped with all-wheel drive, reclining seats, and picture windows.  In other words, vehicles made for Yosemite’s views!

Yosemite 360 Tours by Tenaya at Yosemite

Yosemite 360 Tours
Yosemite 360 Tours set off from Tenaya at Yosemite located just outside of the Park’s southern entrance.

For a full day exploring Yosemite’s most majestic turns, Yosemite 360 Tours depart from the Tenaya at Yosemite just two miles from the Park’s South Gate.  Offered May through October, take the Yosemite Summer Tour for a round-trip of the best of Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point before returning at the end of the day to Tenaya. 

Tours run on expedition-class, all-terrain buses with oversized windows to maximize the views along the way.  Senior (62 and up) discounts are available and, as with all Yosemite tours, the National Park entrance fee is covered by the company.  Private tours are also available year-round. Pre- and post, Tenaya at Yosemite is a well-featured resort perfect for seniors:  on-site dining choices, paths perfect for evening strolls, and a grand lobby with a stone fireplace as its focal point, surrounded by comfy chairs for cozy conversation and catching up on the news.

Extranomical Tours

Extranomical tour bus in yosemite

Extranomical Tours is a superb choice for Bay Area-based travelers who want to hop on a Yosemite day or overnight tour from closer to home.  Available year-round, Extranomical’s tours allow guests to sit back and enjoy the supersized scenery through mammoth windows while their experienced tour guides add on-point narrative and anecdotes.  The day tour includes Half Dome, thundering waterfalls, giant sequoias, and two hours of free time in Yosemite Valley for independent exploration.

With departures from San Francisco and San Jose hotels, Extranomical Tours is a female- and veteran-owned company and proud supporter of NatureBridge’s youth programs.  Tour leaders are experts in the field and offer keen insights into Yosemite’s history, geology, and wildlife. Private Yosemite One-Day Tours, too.

Take the Tour!

Whether senior travelers should explore Yosemite independently or as part of a tour group ultimately depends on individual preference and ability. Going it alone demands more logistical preparation and extra safety precautions. Joining a tour makes everything easier, and potentially much more enriching.  At the end of an epic day, guided touring offers an unsurpassed way to explore the wild beauty of Yosemite National Park.

View all Yosemite tours to explore which might suit you the best.

Categories: General Travel Tips, Travel and Transportation