It’s about 281 miles from Los Angeles, California to Yosemite National Park. You can actually bus, train, or even fly from one point to another. But the vast majority of people opt to drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park. For that reason, this article is all about the best Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park road trip and the stops to make along the way.
The drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park takes about four and a half hours on average. Many people choose to just power through the entire journey – after all, the drive isn’t that long. But if you’re one of those people (like us!) who likes to take things a little slower, this Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park road trip itinerary is definitely for you. As a matter of fact, we’ve actually opted to share a slightly more scenic route than the most direct one.
As with all of our guides and itineraries, this road trip isn’t set in stone. Far from it actually. Instead, it’s meant to give you a structured idea of what you can do on your way from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park, not what you have to do. So if something in this guide doesn’t catch your eye or you don’t think you’ll have enough energy to see everything, feel free to make the changes you need to make this road trip fit you and your group.
*Pro Tip: Like all national parks in the United States, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to visit Yosemite National Park. If you plan on visiting a few different national parks during your trip, you may want to consider buying the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass instead.
Day 1: Los Angeles & Bakersfield
First, thing’s first: Los Angeles. If you’re not from around the area, there’s a good chance that you’ll be flying into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Luckily, LAX is in the centre of the city, so you won’t be too far from any of the Los Angeles sites you’re hoping to see.
After inevitably navigating through some LA traffic, you can choose which Los Angeles attractions you’d like to see most. You can hike to the Hollywood sign, visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, explore the Getty Museum, or do a little shopping on Rodeo Drive. Then, you can hop back in your car and continue on your way!
Two hours into your road trip, you’ll want a place to stretch your legs. And coincidentally, Bakersfield will be right there! We’ll be honest. Bakersfield isn’t the most exciting city in California. But regardless of what route you take, you’ll end up in Bakersfield anyways, so you might as well do a little bit of exploring while you’re there.
Arguably the most popular thing to do in Bakersfield is visit the California Living Museum (CALM), which is a zoo that’s home to over 250 animals. But if that doesn’t suit your style, you can also pop by the Bakersfield Museum of Art, pick a few fruits at Murray Family Farms, or go for a stroll at The Park at River Walk.
Day 2: Sequoia National Park
That’s right! Yosemite National Park won’t be the only national park on this road trip! We also recommend making a stop at Sequoia National Park on day two.
Like the name of this lovely national park implies, Sequoia National Park is known for its massive sequoia trees. As a matter of fact, it’s home to the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume. And that’s not all! Sequoia National Park is also home to the Giant Forest, which has five of the ten largest trees on Earth. Simply put, you won’t be able to see this magical landscape anywhere else on earth.
While gaping in awe at the huge sequoia trees obviously tops the list of things to do at Sequoia National Park, there are a few different ways to make that happen. You can go through the Tunnel Log, tackle the High Sierra Trail, and drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Each option is awesome in its own way, so pick the one that works best for you and your group.
Day 3: Kings Canyon National Park
Just fifteen minutes from Sequoia National Park lies Kings Canyon National Park! Can you believe that there are two stunning natural landscapes within 20 kilometres of each other?
Since Kings Canyon National Park is right next door to Sequoia National Park, there is some overlap between the two landscapes. Put another way, Kings Canyon National Park has its fair share of massive sequoia trees as well.
The most famous sequoia tree in this park is the General Grant Tree in Grant Grove, which holds the title of the second largest tree in the world – only after the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. And since the third and fourth biggest trees are also in Sequoia National Park, that means you’ll be able to see the FOUR largest trees in the world (by volume) on your Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park road trip. That’s pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves.
After saying hello to the massive General Grant Tree, you’ll still have a few things to check off your Kings Canyon National Park bucket list. You can also climb Morro Rock, drive along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, hike to Mist Falls, and take in the incredible views from Panoramic Point.
Day 4: Sierra National Forest
Day 4 of this Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park itinerary welcomes the third national park of the road trip: the Sierra National Forest. It’s actually nestled right in between Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park, so you already know it’s going to be gorgeous before you even step foot there.
With the towering mountains, rushing rivers, and thriving green trees, the Sierra National Forest is the perfect place to take it easy and just enjoy the beauty of nature. Have a lovely little picnic, soak in Mono Hot Springs, hitch a ride on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, and take dozens of breathtaking pictures. All of these calming activities will likely be quite welcome after this itinerary’s two previous hike-filled days.
If you would still like to add a little more exercise to your day at Sierra National Forest, you can definitely make that happen. Hike the incredible Hite Cove Trail, try your hand at whitewater rafting, or even go horseback riding on one of the nature-filled trails.
Day 5: Yosemite National Park
On day 5, you’ll reach the end of your road trip and make it to your final destination: Yosemite National Park! For decades, Yosemite National Park has established itself as one of the best national parks in the United States. There are simply so many stunning things to see and and exciting things to do!
If you only have one day in Yosemite National Park, we highly recommend spending it in Yosemite Valley. That’s where many of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic sites, including Half Dome and El Capitan, are located. You can catch the sunrise from Valley View, admire the views from Tunnel View, hike to Bridalveil Falls, and stargaze at El Capitan Meadow.
*Pro Tip: You may want to consider spending a little more time in Yosemite National Park, because there’s simply so much to see. You can easily spend two to three days exploring this beautiful natural area. If you decide to stick around, we recommend visiting the Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove, and Wawona sections of the park.
And that’s a wrap on the best Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park road trip! If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below!