Los Angeles to Yosemite Road Trip
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- Los Angeles
- Mariposa Grove
- Roadside assistance
- Fast route
- Scenic route
- Cheap insurance
A Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip is an easy five to six-hour drive with plenty of natural and manmade attractions to see along the way. The fastest route is via the I-5 to the CA-99 to Fresno, then taking the CA-41 straight to the park. But there are plenty of fun side trips if you have some time to get distracted.
California is beautiful, so you’ll enjoy a scenic drive no matter your route. In case of any misadventures, make sure you have roadside assistance. You wouldn’t be the first person to run out of gas in the desert!
Here’s an engaging and easygoing itinerary for a Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip, assembled by the car insurance comparison experts at Jerry.
We hope you’re stoked about your Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip! No need to stress over where to go or what to do on your trip—we’ve got you covered.
Los Angeles, CA
A buzzing metropolis in the Golden State, Los Angeles is a very fun place to live—but it’s not a very fun place to drive, as any local will tell you. So let’s get out of town and take a road trip!
Before you go, here’s what you should do in town.
Why you should go: Whether you live here or not, LA is a never-ending feast of activities. It has mountainous hikes, glamorous beaches, and world-class entertainment.
And let’s not forget the food! In Los Angeles, you can find every cuisine on the planet from food carts to Michelin Star restaurants.
What you should do: If you’re starting your road trip from LA, start by picking up some food. Try Ms Chi Cafe in Culver City for dumplings and pork belly tots to-go, or head over to Ronan for a pizza to share.
Want to stretch your legs before you drive? Do a warm-up hike at Griffith Park and enjoy a stunning view of the city from the Observatory before you bid farewell to the smog.
If you are traveling between March and May, be sure to stop by the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve on your way out of town. It’s only 30 minutes off your route and it will totally transform you.
Key Takeaway Why wait until you leave town to start the adventure? LA has a lot to offer.
Los Angeles, California
Bakersfield is just two hours from Los Angeles, but it’s far enough away that most Angelenos have never visited the city. That’s a shame because Bakersfield is an agricultural, historical, and recreational haven.
Plus, it’s the perfect pitstop if you want some farm-fresh food for your adventure.
Why you should go: The natural features and active farming community of Bakersfield are well worth the visit, and it’s right off the highway. Here, you can enjoy a low-key riverwalk, explore art museums, or stock up on yummy snacks grown in the area.
What you should do: The Big Red Barn, Murray Family Farms, is open 8 AM to 8 PM and you can find pies, fruit, and fun games and rides. Grab a couple of pluots to take hiking with you—you’ll be glad you did.
In town, the two best attractions are the Bakersfield Museum of Art and the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science. You should allot at least an hour for each.
If you’re short on time, enjoy a quick meander at the Park at Riverwalk and explore Mercado Latino, a Latin American plaza with shops, food booths, and entertainment.
Another hour north is Visalia, a town with a rich history and a bright future. The views can’t be beat, and you can begin to sense the magic of the Sierra Nevadas from here.
If you needed another reason, in Visalia you can stand at the geographic center of California.
Why you should go: In all honesty, if you stopped in Bakersfield then you may not need to stop in Visalia. However, it’s a natural pausing point if you need a break from driving. Visalia has beautiful murals and gourmet coffee that are well worth the 20-minute stopover.
What you should do: For Instagrammable content, drive by the murals (mostly on Church, Main, and Court streets). The Fox Theater is a historic 1930s building and a very cool sight. Hikers can head to Kaweah Oaks Preserve just east of town for a quick walk in the woodlands. If that’s too far, try Mooney Grove Park (it has a lagoon!).
If you need some cheese to go with your fruit, be sure to stop by Bravo Farms Vintage Cheese Factory on your way out of town—it’s right off the highway.
Key Takeaway You’re traveling through the breadbasket of California—take advantage of it!
MORE: Road trip essentials
Your last urban stop before heading into the forests and dunes is Fresno, a lively city with a strong agricultural community and surprisingly quirky attractions. Underground gardens, anyone? Refill your water bottles here and top up your snack stash.
Why you should go: Fresno is part of California’s heartland, and the city is overflowing with good wine and fresh produce. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the Slow Food Movement or farm-to-table, this is the place.
Adventurous travelers will be delighted to discover a few satisfying hikes in the vicinity if you’re interested in hiking before you cross into Yosemite, that is. Plus, Fresno proves that California has more to offer than just Disney and Universal when it comes to themed entertainment.
What you should do: Visit the turn-of-the-century Kearney Mansion Museum to marvel at the opulence of a ranch manager’s life in the 1890s. The Deutsch Cactus Garden at the Fresno Discovery Center is stunning, too. In the way of hikes, China Creek Park and the Lewis S. Eaton trail are your best options.
Interested in something unique? Go to Forestiere Underground Gardens (open May to October) to experience an interconnected series of active garden rooms and corridors created by a Sicilian immigrant in the early 1900s.
Mariposa Grove, CA
Be careful—this gorgeous stand of sequoia trees is not actually in Mariposa, CA. It’s off CA-41 as you head into Yosemite. You absolutely need to visit this stunning destination.
Why you should go: How does an incredible grove of more than 500 mature sequoia trees sound? Seriously, what other reason do you need?
What you should do: There’s a tree for every mood here. Visit the fallen Wawona Tree, which used to have a tunnel big enough to fit a car (not far is the California Tunnel Tree, which is still standing). Stop by The Faithful Coupleto see two enormous sequoias growing side by side.
The Bachelor and Three Graces are four trees named for Greek mythology. The Grizzly Giant is one of the oldest sequoias in Yosemite (it’s thousands of years old). Make sure that you hike to the upper grove to get good views without the crowds.
Mariposa Grove, California
Yosemite National Park
Your final destination awaits! Yosemite is a jewel in the crown (or a shell in the wampum belt) of America’s National Park system. There are plentiful hikes to discover here, and, at just five hours from Los Angeles, you can return again and again.
Why you should go: Come for the unreal scenery and stunning hikes, which will challenge your body and refresh your mind. Return because you’ll discover even more places that you didn’t have time to explore the first time around. From ancient sequoia trees to striking rock faces, Yosemite is a not-so-hidden treasure waiting to be discovered.
What you should do: First, make sure your car is up for the adventure. Roads can be winding and rocky, so get your car checked out and make sure you have roadside assistance (it’s cheaper than you might think).
The major points of interest in Yosemite are Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and Tunnel View. But you can’t really go wrong—every corner of the park is beautiful. Whether you like hiking, rock climbing, car camping, fishing, river rafting, or all of the above, you’ll find it in Yosemite.
Be sure to do your seasonal research before heading into the park, as wildfires and extreme weather can close roads or affect reservations.
Key Takeaway Don’t try to see it all on your first road trip to Yosemite—save some for next time.
Yosemite National Park
Why you need roadside assistance
Roadside assistance is like a good pair of hiking boots. You could make the trek in flip-flops, but why would you?
Just like hiking boots, roadside assistance programs are built for adventure. They get you protection from the unexpected, like flat tires, running out of gas, dead batteries, and even locking your keys in the car. Jerry even includes a $1,000 car theft reward and $750 trip interruption credits.
Road trips are supposed to be fun. Get roadside assistance (it’s only $6.99!) so nothing interferes with your adventure.
The fast way back
Coming home from Yosemite, the fastest route is to retrace your steps. Follow CA-41 south to CA-99 and I-5. Make sure to check with your navigation apps before you head out, as conditions can change rapidly.
The scenic way back
Have time for a more scenic route? Try taking the 395, which takes you between Sequoia National Park and Death Valley National Park. This path only adds about 30 minutes to your travel time, but you will get to enjoy a completely different landscape.
Keep in mind that summer temperatures in this area can skyrocket, so don’t attempt this route unless you have plenty of water and a full tank of gas.
Death Valley National Park
Finding cheap car insurance
Cheap car insurance is possible! You can get tons of competitive quotes for free via the Jerry app. You will quickly discover whether you’re overpaying for car insurance (hint: you probably are).
No matter where you live or how good (or bad) your driving record is, Jerry can help you compare and purchase a car insurance policy. The average user saves $879 per year thanks to Jerry’s artificial intelligence that uncovers savings at lightning speed.
Whether road tripping to Yosemite or road tripping to the grocery store, you need great coverage at a price that works for you—and Jerry can help.
“So quick and easy! I was about to start pulling my hair out, thank you Jerry!” - Satisfied Jerry user
Can I drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite?
Yes! Sometimes there are road closures due to maintenance or wildfires, but under normal circumstances, you should be able to drive this route easily. Keep in mind that, depending on your destination in the park, your travel time will vary. You may also need an AWD vehicle for off-road or mountainside destinations.
How far is the drive from LA to Yosemite?
The LA to Yosemite road trip will take about five hours if you don’t stop along the way. With a few stopovers in towns like Fresno and Visalia, you can expect to arrive before sundown if you leave first thing in the morning.
Where should I stop on the way to Yosemite from Los Angeles?
Lucky for you, this route encompasses some of the best agricultural destinations in the state! Stop in Bakersfield and Fresno to sample farm-fresh goods. Visalia is a historic town with plenty of interesting attractions and independent coffee shops if you need a pick-me-up. If you want to do some hiking on your way, start in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and swing by Mariposa Groves.
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