San Francisco to Yosemite National Park Road Trip Guide


Located on a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is a big city with almost 900,000 inhabitants who know how special the place is. The earliest humans who are thought to have lived here were the Yelamu group in 3,000 B.C. But the city was not officially incorporated until 1850, even though it was founded in 1776 by Jose Joaquin Morago and Reverend Francisco Palou. Today, San Francisco is more than just a town on a peninsula. It also includes several islands such as Angel Island, Red Rock, Treasure Island, and Alcatraz.

Well-known for its excellent weather, San Francisco has an annual average in the middle 60s. Never too hot or too cold, it is the perfect spot to enjoy all kinds of activities all year long. Beaches and parks are also popular in the city with over 200 parks and hundreds of beaches. Some of the best beaches include Half Moon Bay State Beach, Pacific State Beach, Thornton State Beach, and Montara State Beach. After spending some time working on your tan or cooling off in the waves, it’s onto your next adventure.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

San Jose

It’s less than an hour down US-101 to get to San Jose, where you and the family can find all sorts of exciting things to do. California’s Great America is a huge theme park with 50 carnival rides to enjoy including nine coasters, five thrill rides, and 15 rides just for the little ones. They even have a waterpark with 10 water rides and slides. If you would rather visit a park with animals, the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is perfect for you. They have nine rides, live entertainment, and an animal park where you can see anteaters, lemurs, jaguars, meerkats, and even some gators.

For some more outdoorsy and natural fun, head to one of the state parks in the area. Castle Rock has hiking, biking, horseback riding, and more. Big Basin Redwoods State Park has all that as well as museums, swimming, and surfing. If you want to try some fishing, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has 4,650 acres of open land and forest as well as miles of waterways on the San Lorenzo River and Fall Creek. Don’t get too worn out though, because the next stop is Modesto.


It’s time to head about 1.5 hours up I-680 to the northeast to Modesto. This is a beautiful town an hour south of Sacramento and 1.5 hours north of Fresno. You should really take the family on a float trip down the Tuolumne River while you are in Modesto if you have time. This river is known as one of the wildest and most scenic rivers in the state and has 149 miles that flow through California. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen in the RV.

Another fun adventure that is also educational for you and the kids is the Great Valley Museum and Science Community Center at Modesto Junior College. You can also explore the McHenry Mansion and Museum, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Or head to Downtown Modesto where they have a plethora of restaurants, shops, and farmer’s markets. And if you enjoy the arts, hit the Gallo Center of the Arts or the State Theater. Then you are off to your final destination.


Just under two hours east on CA-120, Yosemite National Park probably needs no introduction because most everyone knows at least something about it. Since 1864, this amazing park has been protected with its giant sequoias, meadows and valleys, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. The wildlife in the park is like no other and includes mountain goats, bears, sheep, deer, and many more. You just never know what you may see here at any time of the year.

Climb and hike the mountainous Yosemite Valley where you can find over 500 miles of backpacking and hiking trails. Take a guided tour on foot, tram, or horseback. Fish for dinner out on a kayak or canoe and then cook it up on the grill at one of the picnic areas. And you probably already know to make a reservation first, but they have nine campgrounds that can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long with hundreds of sites in total. After your long day on the road and then exploring Yosemite, you won’t want to drive anywhere else so camp right on-site.

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