Big Oak Flat Entrance
The Big Oak Flat entrance is 150 miles east of San Francisco and 130 miles southeast of Sacramento. Among the string of small communities along the way is Groveland (24 miles from the park's entrance) -- a throwback to gold-mining days, with some semblance of a town and the oldest saloon in the state. It will take around an hour to reach the park entrance from Groveland, but at least you'll find extracurricular activity there if you're planning to stay in the area for a while. Big Oak Flat has a few hotels as well, but no town. Call the visitor information number below for details.
Getting There -- If you're driving from San Francisco, take I-580 (which turns into I-205) to Manteca, and then Hwy. 120 east.
Visitor Information -- Contact the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce (tel. 800/449-9120 or 209/962-0429; www.groveland.org) for an exhaustive list of hotels, motels, cabins, RV parks, and campsites in the area.
Arch Rock Entrance
This is the most heavily used park entrance, offering easy access to the valley.
Getting There -- Arch Rock is 75 miles northeast of Merced. If you're driving from central California, take I-5 to Hwy. 99 to Merced, and then Hwy. 140 east through El Portal.
Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) and Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com) have routes to Fresno from many cities. VIA Adventures (tel. 800/VIA-LINE [842-5463] or 209/384-1315; www.via-adventures.com) offers service from Merced Amtrak Passenger Station to Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Yosemite Lodge. Coaches, which can be wheelchair lift equipped with advance notice, provide several round-trips daily between Merced and Yosemite.
The South Entrance is 332 miles north of Los Angeles, 190 miles east of San Francisco, 59 miles north of Fresno, and 33 miles south of Yosemite Valley. Fish Camp and Oakhurst are the closest towns to the South Entrance at Wawona. This entrance to the valley leads through the Wawona Tunnel to the Tunnel View, where you must stop to admire the panorama; if you've never been to Yosemite, I promise you that this is a view you'll never forget.
Getting There -- If you're driving from Los Angeles, take I-5 to Hwy. 99 north, and then Hwy. 41 north. Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (tel. 559/621-4500; www.fresno.gov/discoverfresno/airports/default.htm), in nearby Fresno, is 93 miles south of Yosemite Village. The airport is served by Alaska Airlines, America West, American, Continental, Delta, Horizon, United, and all the major car-rental companies. From the airport, take Hwy. 41 north to the South Entrance.
Visitor Information -- Ask the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, 40637 Hwy. 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644 (tel. 559/683-4636; www.yosemitethisyear.com), for a helpful brochure on the area, and check out its excellent online guide.