There are many ways to see Yosemite, the park makes every travel preference possible. From wheel chair ramps to back country trails, the facilities are there for the kind of travel you prefer.
The following are our tips for saving money and having a great time visiting Yosemite.
Gas and Groceries
The best place to fill up with gasoline and buy groceries is, unfortunately, not in Yosemite. The higher the elevation, the more basic goods cost and the harder they are to find. If you are traveling through Merced, we recommend a stop at Costco (membership required), Raley's, or Albertsons for the least expensive groceries. Raley's and Von's are also located in Oakhurst. There is also the smaller Pioneer Market in Mariposa.
Fuel can also be had at better prices in Merced as well. If you need to fill up in Mariposa, the Darrah Road Market in Bootjack is where the locals fill up. It's between Meadow Creek Ranch and the town of Mariposa and is usually worth the trip for the savings. There are two grocery stores in the town of Mariposa. There is a large store in Yosemite Valley, selection is good, but the prices are higher.
Gas is not available in Yosemite Valley, but is available at Crane Flats, Wawona, and Tuolomne Meadows, too far away if you get to the park close to empty. The last station before you reach the park entrance is the Chevron in El Portal where gas can run $1 or more higher than the prices charged elsewhere in Mariposa county. Here is a map to gas stations in the Mariposa and Yosemite area. Oakhurst gas stations are numerous and easy to find.
see our maps page for route tips and to find information about seasonal road closures
If you drive, the roads are twisty, narrow, and the scenery is amazing. Keep your eye on the road: it is easy to wind up off the road if you don't. Driving on mountain roads with few cars has just as many hazards as big freeways, and maybe more. Watch for falling rocks in the Merced River Canyon, deer, distracted drivers, and police that don't have much to do. If you are being cautious and have more than five cars right behind you, be nice to those behind you and pull over at one of the many pull outs to allow everyone to pass. It is a nice thing to do, and you will get a friendly wave from the passing local drivers.
What to bring
In Yosemite, be prepared for all weather, any time. Hail in June and snow in July actually can happen. Bring a sweater at least: it gets colder the higher you go.
Bring a set of well-fitting tire chains if you are traveling during the winter months. Find out more about what other travelers are saying about tire chain use in Yosemite. This is another Yosemite specific site for learning about tire chains.
The Merced River slows down and gets warmer toward late summer, making swimming a part of most local's plans. There are many swimming spots in and out of the Park. Just ask around and someone will tell you a good spot -- the great ones are usually kept as well-guarded secrets. Be careful though, the Merced River can be very dangerous.
Bring a flashlight: it gets very dark at night without the ghostly glow of urban light pollution, unless it is a full moon, of course.
Sunblock before a hike will protect you from sun and, should you get into poison oak, it will slow the effects of the poison oak oils on the skin. Tecnu is a good product to have with you. If you wait to buy it after you get into poison oak you might be too late.
Crowds are a matter of perspective. June, July, August, crowds are present at the major sites in Yosemite Valley. If you are willing to get out of your car and hike a bit, isolation is never far away, even in the busy summer months.
Bears like to break into cars that might contain food. Cosmetics, sun block, fast food debris, paint (take note artists), anything that has an odor or looks like it might contain food, can signal a passing bear to rip the door off your parked car just to see what snacks might be inside. Bears act on instinct, if they find no visual or olfactory food clues they will leave your car alone. Use the provided bear-safe garbage cans and food lockers to keep the bears wild and out of your car.
www.yosemitefun.com - very informative
Yosemite Web Cams
Yosemite National Park - National Park Service
The Yosemite Association
Virtual Tourist - Yosemite National Park Travel Tips