Travel.SE, this is my first time being here, I am gonna go to Yosemite late this May with my mom.

Based on the current knowledge of traveling to Yosemite based on Google, either I would rent a car and drive there and be completely on own own, or I could just buy a group bus tour package starting from SF or sth.

I have two concerns:

  • Me and my mom are both photography enthusiasts, my mom got two huge cameras(D3s and D2x), five lenses including a huge 200-400mm, and an unfoldable tripod, all of which would fill in two bags, I have just one Canon bag but still quite huge. Hence we would have 2-3 luggages per person. Now if traveling with groups, how many pieces of luggage normally we are allowed to take? and do we have time to take photos?

  • If not traveling with groups, all the lodgings are already booked out, what are the good options to live couple of miles away from Yosemite and drive there? Is parking in Yosemite convenient?

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    Anyone carrying that kind of gear isn't going to be happy with the schedule of a tour. Jul 15, 2013 at 22:41
  • @LorenPechtel Thanks for the heads up. I already went Yosemite last May and enjoyed my time there. Also I had the chance to shoot the solar eclipse on the sentinel dome. :) Great time.
    – user2318
    Jul 15, 2013 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


IMHO, driving yourself is the way to do it if you want any freedom at all once you get there.

I've been to Yosemite several times - the most recent just over a week ago. The drive from the San Francisco Bay Area depends a little on where you start out, and what time of day/week you go, but if you plan for about 4 hours you'll be close to the mark.

Once you're inside the park there is a free shuttle bus that runs around the park covering the main areas of interest, but as a photographer myself I almost always end up reverting to driving around the park as many of the places you're interested in for photography will probably not be near where the shuttle stops.

Accommodation can be a problem, especially if you're going on a weekend. The official place to book all accommodation within the park itself is this website where you can search all of the available accommodation (except camping). If you can go mid-week then you should be fine most of the year, but especially over the next few months you can expect weekends to be difficult if you haven't booked in advance.

If you can't get something inside the park, there are some options outside such as in El Portal or Mariposa, but you should plan on up to an hour or so drive to get to/from the valley, especially from Mariposa. Google will find you a number of websites that list accommodation in these areas. Parking within the park is generally not a problem - there are a few central parking areas near the shuttle stops, and although some of these can fill up on peak days (ie, Weekends in Spring/Summer), it's generally not to difficult to find one. If you're staying in the park you'll get a pass that is required to park overnight - otherwise it's day parking only in most areas.

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    We stayed in Mariposa, which was a lot cheaper than staying close to the park. And if you get up at a reasonable time, you should have plenty of time left to view the park, you can always drive back to the hotel when its starting to get dark.
    – Ivo Flipse
    May 12, 2012 at 11:28

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