The Best Yosemite Tours From San Francisco [2019]

Yosemite private tours

Author: Gaby Pilson

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The glacially carved valleys of Yosemite National Park are a veritable jewel of the United States National Park system. Here, you can stand on lush green valley floors that are dwarfed by steep granite walls as high as the eye can see. Adventure is limitless in Yosemite, as you can take to one of the park’s many trails in the Valley or head off on a backcountry adventure away from the crowds.

If it’s your first time visiting the area, or you don’t quite have the time to plan out every detail of your trip, a tour to Yosemite Valley from San Francisco can be a great way to see the sights without the hassle of logistics. To help you find the best organised tour, we’ve waded through the innumerable options and found the best Yosemite tours from San Francisco for you to check out.

After a quick review of some of the best Yosemite tours, we’ll give you some insight into what to look for when booking a tour, so you can find the one that’s right for you. Alright, let’s get to it!


Yosemite Tour Reviews

#1 ​​San Francisco to Yosemite Mini

Best short tour

Days:

3

Operator:

Trek America

Highlights:

San Francisco, Yosemite National Park

Age range:

18 to 38 years old

Max Group Size:

18

Accommodation:

13

Transport:

Private Vehicle

CHECK reviews & PRICES at tour radar

If you only have a few days to play, this three-day tour from San Francisco gets you out of the city bright and early for the drive out to Yosemite National Park. On the way there, you'll be amazed by the stunning scenery along the drive in one of Trek America's private vehicles (there's wifi!), which is trumped only by the spectacular views from within the park itself.

On day two of your journey, you’ll have a full day to explore the park, so you can spend the time hiking the trails, biking the park’s roadways, or on a float trip down the Merced River, to name a few possible options. After your adventure in the Valley, you’ll spend the night at one of the park’s many beautiful campsites before heading back to the Bay Area. On the final day of the voyage, you’ll drive back to San Francisco and enjoy a nice walk across the Golden Gate Bridge before trip draws to a close.

#2 ​​Lake Tahoe & Yosemite Winter Adventure

Best winter tour

Days:

8

Operator:

Highlights:

San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park

Age range:

1 to 99 years old

Max Group Size:

13

Accommodation:

Hotel

Transport:

Private Vehicle

Savvy travellers know that sometimes the best season is the off-season. While thoughts of winter and snow dissuade many travellers from visiting the mountains, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe are two of the most stunning places in California when covered in a fresh layer of powder. On this eight-day trip from Intrepid, you’ll leave San Francisco and head first to Lake Tahoe.

You’ll spend a few days in Tahoe, going on hikes around the lake, skiing the famous Heavenly Mountain, ice skating, and drinking hot cocoa by the fire. After your time in Tahoe’s winter wonderland, you’ll head next to Yosemite, for a taste of solitude in the mountains.

Although the park is super popular in the summer, it sees far fewer visitors in the winter months. Here, you can head off on a snowshoe adventure, rent some cross country skis, or even give snow tubing a shot before retiring to your hotel room at the Majestic Yosemite. The last two days are spent in San Francisco, where you'll get to enjoy the splendour of the Golden Gate Bridge and even take a walking tour through Chinatown before it's time to say goodbye to your travelling companions and head your separate ways.

#3 ​​Western USA National Parks Explorer

​Best long tour

Days:

14

Operator:

Explore!

Highlights:

San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Bishop, Death Valley National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park, Las Vegas

Age range:

4 to 85 years old

Max Group Size:

13

Accommodation:

Hotel

Transport:

Private Vehicle

CHECK reviews & PRICES at tour radar

This discovery tour from Explore! Spends two weeks travelling through some of the most stunning terrain that the Western United States has to offer. Starting off in San Francisco, you’ll travel overland to a fantastic array of different parks and scenic places, including Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Parks, to name a few.

This fourteen-day epic travels in a private vehicle with a small group but builds in plenty of time for you to go on your own adventures and see the sights in any way that works best for you. If you have trouble choosing what places you want to see, why not see them all on this tour?

#4 ​Northern California Summer TOUR

​Best luxury comfort tour

Days:

8

Operator:

Trafalgar

Highlights:

San Francisco, 17-Mile Drive, Big Sur, Napa, Yosemite National Park

Age range:

5 to 99 years old

Max Group Size:

50

Accommodation:

Hotel

Transport:

Coach bus

​If you love the mountains but also want to spend time along the beach and sipping on wine in Napa, then you might want to consider this Northern California explorer tour from Trafalgar. This tour starts out in San Francisco, where you’ll take part in an in-depth cultural tour of the world’s trendiest cities. Next up is a trip to the world famous Napa Valley wine region and a day of sightseeing at the stunning Lake Tahoe.

Yosemite Valley is your next stop on this tour, where you’ll get to experience the beauty of this place firsthand. The last few days of this trip are spent down in Big Sur, home to some of the most rugged coastline in California. You can explore Monterey’s famous aquarium or lounge by the beach - the choice is yours! The tour finishes up with a drive through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where you’ll get to stand under the giant redwoods before heading back to San Francisco.

#5 ​Yosemite & Tahoe In-Depth

​Best wildlife and scenery tour

Days:

7

Operator:

Exodus Travels

Highlights:

San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Tahoe

Age range:

16 to 99 years old

Max Group Size:

13

Accommodation:

Hotel, Lodge

Transport:

Boat, Private Vehicle

CHECK reviews & PRICES at tour radar

If you want to see all that Yosemite and Tahoe have to offer in the summertime, then this tour with Exodus Travels might be for you. This week-long tour starts off in San Francisco, where you'll meet with your group for the first time. On day two, you'll head down to Monterey on California's Central Coast for a whale watching cruise in the Bay.

Days three and four are spent exploring the best of Yosemite, where you can walk amongst Giant Sequoias, rent a bike, or float down the River Merced. The final two days of the tour are spent at Lake Tahoe, where you’ll get the chance to hike around lakes and up in the mountains before finishing up your last day of the trip with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.


CHOOSING YOUR Yosemite National Park TOUR

Before you decide on a tour and spend some of your hard earned money, it's important to make sure you're making the right choice. It can be overwhelming to sift through all of the different options available, so to make things easier for you, we've created this list of important things to look for when booking tours in Yosemite:

Check the Itinerary

Sure, the tour title might say that it’s going to take you to Yosemite, but how much time are you actually going to spend there? If going to Yosemite is the whole reason that you’re headed to California, then you want to make sure that you’re going to maximise your time in the park. On the other hand, if you’re keen to see as many different places as possible during your trip, perhaps book a tour that gives you a day or two in a variety of different locations.

Consider How You Like to Travel

Do you enjoy small group adventures or luxurious coach bus tours? Are you an active traveller or more of a sit-back-and-relax sort of person? Choosing the right tour style is incredibly important, as you don’t want to get stuck on a tour that involves a lot of hiking if you have mobility limitations or if you really want to spend your time wine tasting instead.

Generally speaking, most organised tours have a specific market and demographic they’re designed for. To find a tour that’s going to be best for your needs, you first need to figure out how you like to travel. From here, you can narrow down your options by style to find the tour that’s right for you.

Accommodation

Is camping one of your favourite pastimes or something to avoid? If you're headed to Yosemite, you'll have to decide if you want to stay in hotels or sleep under the stars. Luckily, Yosemite has something to offer for everyone as there are a number of high-quality hotels and resorts inside the park, as well as a selection of great campgrounds.

Staying in a hotel will usually increase the price of your trip, but if you're looking for a more luxurious getaway or just want to have wifi access, it'll be worth the cost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mountain guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gaby Pilson

Professional Mountain Guide


A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.

As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.

She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.