How To Get To Yosemite Without A Car

Since we focus so much on renting camping gear & renting snow clothes so you don't have to buy it for infrequent use, we thought, why not extend that to cars? Our 'without a car' series of protips is designed to help you get outside without having to drive. While driving can be super convenient, we know it can also be difficult & stressful (traffic in the Bay Area is terrible, few people own a car, no one wants to drive at the end of a long day under the hot sun, and in the winter, you have to deal with chains & highway patrol). Let someone else take care of the logistics, while you just enjoy! Taking transit can be especially fun with a crew of people to hang out with or play games. Or, of course, just take a nap!

First, there are 2 types of options

  1. Public charter buses. These comfy buses take you straight to the park. (Note, while there are tours that also take you to the park, we've focused on charter buses that exist to provide transportation, without any included activities once you've arrived.)
  2. Regular public transit. The good 'ol fashioned way, by train and then bus.

We’ll cover both in this protip. Though honestly, for efficiency, we'd recommend the public charter bus option. Please note, not all itineraries are offered daily; there are differences based on high (May through October) and low season. We've included links to help you further your planning & make final reservations. This information is current for 2015/Spring 2016; always plan your trip in advance.

Once you are in the park, there is a network of free shuttles that take you to the main destinations!

Comparison of different ways to get to Yosemite by transit
TL;DR Comparison table, click to see full size

Public Charter Bus Companies

  • Provides brief overview narrative about the park
  • Provides a much faster/ convenient service direct to the park, meaning a one-day trip is possible (though you won't be in the Park for very long)
  • The two companies that operate buses from San Francisco are:

Regular Public Transit Routes

  • Takes you to multiple park & non-park destinations
  • Priced much cheaper

Step by step instructions from the Bay Area

  1. Take any BART (Bay Area Regional Transit) subway to the Richmond Station BART, which conveniently is also an Amtrak station
  2. At Richmond, take the Amtrak train to Merced
  3. Upon arrival at Merced, you have 2 options. The main difference is that with YARTS you have 1 less time option, but YARTS will stop at the Yosemite Bug Resort (a popular hostel). Options:
    • Take YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transit System) to the Valley, or
    • Take Amtrak's shuttle service