Yosemite Valley free shuttle busYosemite National Park has free year-round shuttle buses in eastern Yosemite Valley with stops at most major sites of interest and some trailheads.
This webpage describes the main year-round route, which runs in all kinds of weather.
(These other routes do not run all year: A second summer valley bus route, the El Capitan Shuttle, runs from the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center with stops at Camp 4, El Capitan picnic area, El Capitan Bridge and the Four Mile trailhead, from late May/mid June to early September, often from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m./ every 30 minutes. Another summer Express Shuttle runs from day use parking to the Visitor Center, often from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., every 20 minutes. Other free summer buses include Wawona/Mariposa grove, Tuolumne Meadows and a winter bus to Badger ski area. (Fee) tours include the valley floor tour, Glacier Point, Grand Tour, hikers bus to/from Tuolumne and various trailheads along the way. (See some links near the end of this page.)
There is no parking lot for park visitors at the visitor center, and very little parking other places. People are asked to park their car at their campsite or hotel or day use parking, leave it there, and ride the shuttle, ride bikes or jog/hike/walk/stroll.
Except when road repairs are being done and some roads might be closed, the free Valley Visitor Shuttle buses drive the same route in numerical order.
Once people understand the route most of the buses use, they can switch buses at a couple of major stops to cut as much as a half hour off the time needed to get to their destination. Plus, the best stops for some activities are not completely obvious.
The most current route map for the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus is in the newspaper Yosemite Today that you can get as you enter the park
It looks something like this:
(Map below courtesy of NPS)
I will not try to keep a current map here at this site, but I will give you hints (below the list of stops) to save time using the shuttle bus. If you print a copy of the most current route (see link above), the following will make more sense and you can note any changes to the stops. Please also note that road construction/snow can affect the times/routes.
The valley shuttles runs every ten to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In seasons other than summer it sometimes runs every 30 minutes.
The bus stops usually are:
1) Visitor Parking (Day use parking lot) just south of Yosemite Village
2) Yosemite Village In front of the main grocery store
The main store has the biggest selection of food and gifts, toys, Yosemite logo clothes. You will find a bigger selection of fresher produce in larger groceries near home, so bring your own.
map below courtesy of NPS
There is no bus stop for the medical clinic (summer daily 9-5 , winter M-F 9-5 / closed major holidays) with 24 hour ambulance, but it is a short walk from the store on the road to the Ahwahnee.
3) The Ahwahnee Hotel The bus stop is just out into the parking lot, not under the cover of the porte-cochere (covered hotel main entrance).
Below, the view from the free shuttle bus stop looking toward the Ahwahnee porte-cochere.
4) At the corner of Degnan's Deli in Yosemite Village
5) main Valley Visitor Center
Park rangers on duty to answer questions, bookstore, information, exhibits, park info presentations. To the right as you face the building is the Wilderness Center, open spring to fall for backcountry permits and bear canister rentals. Yosemite Museum/store is to the left as you face the Visitor Center. The Indian Cultural Exhibit is behind the visitor center.
6) At the end of the loop path to the base of lower Yosemite Fall (almost all relatively flat walk, one mile round trip). There is a map of the area at:
How to find the location of John Muir's cabin (hang nest) in Yosemite Valley
There is no bus stop across the street going in the opposite direction. For example, if you come from the Visitor Center or campgrounds direction and you get off at this stop to do the hike to the base of Yosemite Falls, if you want to catch a bus returning in the same direction, you need to walk to stop 8 at the Lodge to catch it or ride the bus for a couple of stops.
Please walk your bike on this trail.
7) Camp 4 Near the Lodge day-use parking lot (across the main road and just down the shuttle bus road from Camp 4 (Sunnyside) walk-in campground and trailhead to Upper Yosemite Falls.) (Upper Yosemite Fall hike 7.2 miles round trip, 2,700 feet elevation gain.)
Stop 7 is closer than stop 8 to the Yosemite Lodge hotel buildings Laurel and Juniper.
8) Yosemite Lodge just across the road from the hotel lobby, restaurants, gift shops.
Map below courtesy of NPS
9) Valley Visitor Center (right across the street from stop #5)
10) Across the street from stop #2 at the main grocery in Yosemite Village
11) Sentinel Bridge (walk across the bridge to the Yosemite Chapel)
The parking lot just north of Sentinel Bridge is one of the best places to take pictures of moonbows (lunar rainbows during a full moon in spring) on upper Yosemite Fall.
12) LeConte Memorial Lodge (displays, occasional programs) and across the road from the bus stop, Housekeeping Camp, with showers and laundromat - the laundromat is usually open through the winter even when housekeeping units are not open. To find the laundromat, bear left when you enter the Housekeeping parking lot.
Map below courtesy of NPS
13A) Curry Village recreation rentals bike and or raft rental in summer, ice rink in winter
(The permanent ice rink will eventually be removed and replaced with a seasonally installed portable ice rink.)
13B) Curry Village registration office. Pay phones outside.
14) Curry Village parking (across the road from stop 20). 365 day a year shower house and summer swimming pool up the road from the parking lot.
Some winters the buses do not run to stops (15, 16, 17 and 18) on the Happy Isles loop road, when they do run they may stop after a major snowfall.
15) Upper Pines campground, (across the road towards Curry Village from the campground).
16) Happy Isles with a nature center, a fen (marsh), the trailhead for the mist trail and the rest of the John Muir Trail including to Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and Half Dome.
17) Mirror Lake junction (service sometimes ends earlier than other stops)
18) Stable (service sometimes ends earlier than other stops) and North Pines campground.
19) Pines campground at the entrance to Lowers Pines (Upper Pines campground entrance is across the road, North Pines campground is up the road).
20) Curry Village parking (right across the road from stop 14)
21) Curry Village recreation rentals bike and/or raft rental in summer, ice rink in winter, right across the street from stop #13A
Bus logistics and courtesies
- - - All the free Yosemite shuttle buses have wheelchair lifts and tie-downs. Please take the baby out of the stroller and fold up the stroller. No inflated rafts, tubes, etc. are allowed. You can carry/wear your big backpack, but it shouldn't have a seat for itself if the bus is crowded.
- - - Most drivers prefer you wait until everyone has finished getting off before you get on. Most prefer you enter from the door at the front end of the bus and exit from the back.
- - - Any time usage is high, especially on a summer afternoon, standees need to move to the back to let more people on.
To save time using the shuttle bus:
The main buses go to stops 1 through 21 in that order all day in the summer, or a few less stops in the winter.
If you had come from the Pines campgrounds and got off at the main store in Yosemite Village at stop #2 it would be a mistake to get back on the bus at the stop you got off at to go back to the campgrounds. If you did you would need to ride the whole bus route and it could take you an extra half hour or longer to get back. It would make more sense to walk across the street and get on any bus that stops at stop #10.
If you had come from the Pines campgrounds and stopped at a Curry restaurant or store and wanted to go back to the campground it would be a mistake to get back on the bus at the stop you got off at. Again, you should cross the street and get on a bus with a shorter ride to your destination.
Below is a picture of the two bus stops at Curry Village parking.
Most Curry Village cabins with bath are a shorter walk from the registration desk and/or recreation rentals in summer, ice rink in winter stops than from the Curry Village parking stops. Most Curry tent cabins are a shorter walk from the Curry Village parking stops than from the others. A few tent cabins are a shorter walk from Upper Pines stop #15.
If you had come from the Lodge to the Valley Main Visitor Center it would be a mistake to try to go directly back to the Lodge by getting on a bus at the stop you got off at. Walk across the road for a much faster ride.
Coming from Curry and the campgrounds to most destinations in Yosemite Village, (Degnans, Post Office, Ansel Adams gallery, Wilderness Center) it makes more sense to get off at the store and walk to Degnan's or the Post Office, etc. than to stay on the bus and ride all the way to the Ahwahnee Hotel and back.
Campers in Upper Pines campground in the higher numbered campsite loops (188 - 240 and 158 to 187) will find that it is a much shorter walk from the Happy Isles stop to their campsite than from the official Upper Pines campground stops at the west end of the campground.
Campers in the lower half of Upper Pines and all of Lower Pines will find the stop at #15 gets them to their campsite faster than riding all the way to Happy Isles, the stop at the end of the road to Mirror Lake, and the stable then finally getting off at the #19 stop at the entrance to Lower Pines.
(If you are heading into Upper Pines please don't walk right through Upper Pines campsites 26, 27, 28 etc, at the end of the first loop after you get off the bus, please walk between the campsites.)
Campers in the higher numbered sites in Lower Pines (70s, 80s) will often find when there are lines for and waits for space on the buses at Curry, it is more pleasant (and sometimes faster) to walk to their sites, using the boardwalk across Stoneman Meadow.
People at the valley backpacker's walk-in (for use the night before and / or after a backpack trip, permit required) will find it is a slightly shorter walk from the Ahwahnee bus stop than from Lower Pines or the stable IF you can find the way on the back road, but you have a topo map, right? The Ahwahnee stop would also be a much shorter bus ride to and from the main store, the cafeteria at the Lodge or to visit friends at Camp Four.
Yosemite Lodge buildings Laurel and Juniper are closer to the Camp Four bus stop than the official Yosemite Lodge. Buildings Tamarack, Dogwood, Aspen, are about equal distance to the Lower Yosemite Falls stop.
Guests at the Lodge or Ahwahnee who go ice skating, or rent a raft will have a much longer ride back if they get on at the stop they got off at, again, cross the road to the other bus stop for a shorter ride back.
Given how long the wait can be for a bus in the winter it can be faster to walk between the main store/Degnans and the Ahwahnee than to wait for a bus, especially of you just saw a bus leave the stop.
Here are the bus stops for the following Yosemite Valley activities:
To hike to Vernal Fall (the top is 3 miles round trip, 1,000 feet elevation gain) Nevada Fall (the top is 5 miles round trip, 1,900 feet elevation gain) or Half Dome, (permit required) Happy Isles stop. (There are pictures at Vernal Fall Mist Trail.) Or rather, to hike to Half Dome and back in one day, get up earlier than the buses run and make your way there. (You need a permit to go to the top of Half Dome http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm )
You can go directly to the trailhead by walking across the bridge in front of the bus stop, but then you'll miss the nature museum (see info at: Yosemite visitor centers) just up a trail past the restroom as you get off the bus.
To hike to Columbia Rock (2 miles round trip, 1,000 feet levation gain), upper Yosemite Fall (7.2 miles round trip, 2,700 feet elevation gain), Yosemite Point or Eagle Peak (Three Brothers) use the Camp Four stop and head across the main road. Upper Yosemite Fall hike
To hike to Glacier Point via the Four Mile trail (4.8 miles one way, 3,200 foot elevation gain, not open in winter) use the Camp Four stop and take a short walk across the river and slightly south/west on the main road to the trailhead. (Or use the seasonal El Capitan shuttle.)
To go rafting, get off at one of the two raft rental (recreation rental) stops. This is whether you want to rent a raft or have your own. More info is at: Yosemite Valley Rafting Advice
To go to a grocery store you have a few choices. The main store in Yosemite Village has a larger selection, but the grocery at Curry, Housekeeping or the Lodge might be closer to where you are staying and the bag of ice in your lap will be less likely to melt.
There are restaurants of various sizes and styles at Curry, Yosemite Village, The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge.
To get a shower in the summer go to Housekeeping or Curry Village. In the winter only Curry is open. From the Curry bus stops, walk toward the large buildings. To the right, the biggest building houses the stores and a small food service. To the left of them is a service vehicles only road. Up that road a short distance on the right is the shower house (and swimming pool entrance in the summer).
free spring / summer art classes usually meet in front of the art center quite near the main store in Yosemite Village
It is much faster to walk to the chapel from day use parking than to ride the bus from there.
Bike rentals are at Curry and the Lodge, spring through fall. Find a way to bring our own, rentals are (as of early 2015) $11.50 an hour or $32 a day. (With an attached trailer $19.50 an hour, $59.50 a day.) Most years they say that bike rentals start at 9 a.m., last bike out at 4:45 p.m. and bikes need to be back in by 5:45 p.m.; with your own you can ride early and late into the day. There are more than 12 miles of surfaced bike paths on the valley floor and even in the winter the weather is sometimes good enough to ride or rollerblade. A map of bike paths is at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/biking.htm and you can ride on paved roads.
Ranger walks and evening programs meet at various locations, including in front of the main visitor center, in front of the Yosemite Museum, at a campground/amphitheater, at a shuttle bus stop, at the Lodge amphitheater behind the office or the Ahwahnee hotel shuttle stop or back lawn, at the El Capitan Bridge, check the park newspaper.
You might sign up for a free or fee photo walk at the Ansel Adams gallery, but the walk could meet at the Ahwahnee.
Many of the fee walks/workshops require advanced reservations.
Free internet access is available at the tiny Yosemite Valley branch of the Mariposa County Library in the Girls Club Building. This is very limited (often not open on weekends) and you will find much easier access at whatever concession services facility is allowing people to pay for access. (Guests at Curry, the Lodge and the Ahwahnee have free access.) The library is at 58 Cedar Court. Cedar Court runs North/South off of Village Drive to the west of the Valley Vistor Center. Village Drive is the name of the shuttle bus route road that runs in front of the Valley Visitor Center.
There are no gas stations in Yosemite valley.
The Yosemite Guide newspaper has hours of operation for tours, stores, food service, post offices, laundromat, showers, auto service, gas stations, and a calendar of park activities including Ranger walks, and hours of operation for visitor centers and museums,
Things to do during a Yosemite snow storm besides hiding in your tent uses the free valley shuttle bus.
A different free bus runs to various stops at Tuolumne Meadows in the summer. It runs most of the day to stops at Tuolumne Lodge, trailhead parking near Tuolumne Lodge, Wilderness Center/parking lot, Lembert Dome parking lot (which is the closest stop to access the stables), store/grill/campground, Visitor Center, trailhead for Cathedral Lakes at the west end of the meadows, Pothole Dome, the east (beach) end of Tenaya Lake, the west end of Tenaya Lake (also the Sunrise trailhead), the May Lake trailhead and Olmstead Point. Usual schedule: service begins at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge at 7 a.m. Buses arrive at approximately 30-minute intervals between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The last shuttle bus leaves Olmstead Point at 6:00 p.m. Most years the shuttle bus also makes two morning (9 a.m. and noon) and two afternoon (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) runs from Tuolumne Lodge to Tioga Pass with a stop at Mono Pass. All this is subject to change. Look for route maps at the shuttle stops and Visitor Center. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmbus.htm
There is also a daily hiker's bus in warm months with stops along the road between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows.
For info on the YARTS bus to and from the valley call 1-877-98YARTS.
The Big Trees tram tour runs in the summer in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. See the Yosemite guide for info or call 209 375-1621.
There is also a free winter bus to Badger Pass for skiing, snowboarding and the Ranger snowshoe walk. http://www.yosemitepark.com/badger-shuttle-schedule.aspx
FAQ: I can find Camp 4, but what are people referring to when they talk about Camp 11 or Upper Tecoya??
The campgrounds were originally numbered. I've read that this system dates back to the 1800s and was formalized after 1906, during the time of the Cavalry. My 1958 topographical map of the valley has some of the numbers.
Camp 4 - Sunnyside Walk-in Campground
Swan Slab Meadow - the open area immediately to the east of Camp Four. Cliffs to the east of Swan Slab meadow and boulders in the vicinity are used for climbing practice. Some of the boulders between Camp 4 and the meadow have names, examples: Columbia, Titanic, Tor and Elegant Gypsy.
Wahhoga was the site of the last historically occupied Indian Village in Yosemite Valley (just west of Camp 4).
Camp 6 - not a campground anymore, now the Day-Use parking area south of the village (once called Camp Tresidder)
Camp 7 - former (flooded in 1997) Lower River Campground
Camp 9 - was a group campground, then backpackers' walk-in
Camp 11 - Upper Pines Campground
Camp 12 - North Pines Campground
Camp 14 - Lower Pines Campground
Camp 15 - former (flooded in 1997) Upper River Campground
Camp 16 - Housekeeping Camp
A 1933 map listed them all campgrounds as free. It also noted where you could find a telegraph, the bearfeeding platforms, and noted that the Big Oak Flat Road was max. 15 miles per hour, "go down on odd hours only, go up on even hours only."
Original numbered camps in Yosemite valley included:
Camp 1 in El Capitan meadow
Camp 2 in Bridalveil Meadow
Camp 3 west of Yosemite Village on the south side of the Merced River
Camp 4 Leidig Meadow, including part of where the Yosemite Lodge is currently
Camp 8 above Royal Arch creek, including where the Ahwahnee Hotel is now
Camp 13 never existed because people were superstitious about the number
Camp 17 where Lower Tecoya is now
Camp 20 is now the Church Bowl
Tecoya (Upper, Middle and Lower) are park housing areas, around the Village store area.
Boy's town was a staff housing area at Curry. You see the tents as you go along the road between the Curry orchard and Lower Pines Campground.
Rancheria Flat, Railroad Flat and Abbieville (Hennessey's Ranch) are in the El Portal Administrative site.
River Straight refers to the section of road between the intersection at Camp Curry and the intersection at the Day-Use parking area south of the village.
Northside Drive is the main road on the north of the valley. Southside drive is the main road on the south of the valley.
El Cap Crossover is the road section between Northside and Southside drives that goes over the El Capitan bridge.
Taft Toe is at the base of Taft Point, at the south end of El Cap crossover.
Lower Tecoya is employee housing behind the valley garage. Upper and Middle Tecoya are employee housing north of that. Tecoya was an original name for North Dome.
The old Curry dump site is east of Curry Village.
Crane Flat Complex, Tamarac Complex and Mariposa Complex refer to the three basic cultural complexes of the original people who lived in the Yosemite area, as early as 1000 B.C.
Monroe Meadows - now the downhill ski area at Badger Pass.
Camp Yosemite, later Camp Lost Arrow, was a military post at the base of Yosemite fall.
Gentry Station was the last station on the original Big Oak Flat road, on a cliff overlooking the Merced River canyon.
La Casa Nevada, originally the Alpine House, was at the base of Nevada fall.
Too-lool-a-we-ack was an early reference to Illilouette Fall.
The first Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, on the north shore of Boothe Lake, was moved due to "intolerable" mosquitoes.
In 1918 there was a zoo of sorts in the valley, with three orphaned mountain lion cubs and a black bear cub.
Leidig Meadow once had an oval race track for horse races.
In the late 1800s people spelled it Yo-Semite, Yo Semite or Yo-Hamite.
The Four Mile trail had a toll of one dollar when it was first built and a part of the Vernal Falls trail cost 75 cents.
Yosemite trips index