A couple of months ago, I took a 5 day trip to Yosemite National park for my girlfriends birthday. We love it there (can’t you tell from my “about me” picture?). This is our 3rd trip to Yosemite and it won’t be our last.

For those who don’t know, Yosemite is a national park located in northern California. It is the second most visited national park in the US. The heart of the park is the Yosemite Valley, which is the main tourist destination.

The Valley itself is like a small town. It consists of various trails for walking, hiking and biking. There are restaurants, shops, a museum, visitor center, a school and even a cementary.

Every time we’ve visited Yosemite, we always go during weekdays in the Fall season as the room rates are much cheaper and the park is less crowded.

For this trip we decided to save even more money by staying at a Best Western in a nearby town called Oakhurst. We usually stay closer to the Valley but as a general rule, the closer you are the Valley the more expensive rooms get.

I made the mistake of not looking at how long the drive would be from out hotel to Yosemite Valley before I booked the room. When I was booking the room, Hotels.com showed the hotel was about 30 miles away from the Valley.

It was mostly true, except those 30 miles are through a two way road full of curves, over the mountains, surrounded by forest, with limited visibility and all at a height of what seems like 1,000 feet.

The road is very scenic and beautiful but for someone who is afraid of heights, the whole drive had me very nervous and the max speed I felt safe driving was like 35mph. Not to mention there are deer everywhere and they like to just calmly cross the road when cars are passing by. On two separate occasions I had to suddenly stop and wait for deer crossing.

The drive took about an hour and half each way. A 3 hour round trip. Everyday. For 5 days.

Next time, check Google Maps. Lesson learned.

So how much did our Yosemite trip cost?

A total of $640 for two people—5 days/4 nights with all meals and activities included. 

I probably could of gotten this number closer to $600 if we had actually cooked/prepared most of our meals like we had originally planned. Alas, sometimes you just kind of sleep in after a long day of hiking and don’t really have the time or energy for cooking breakfast.

Especially when you’ve got an hour and half long drive ahead of you.

There are very few places to eat at the Valley. I only saw 2 locations serving burgers and the like. Both are over priced and very crowded so we actually stuck to our plan of taking mostly snack and plenty of water for our hikes.

Oakhurst has more of a typical city feeling and it has plenty of stores restaurants and gas stations.

The prices on everything are more reasonable compared to the Valley.

This is what our Yosemite Expenses looked like:

  • Groceries before leaving: $33
  • 4 nights at the Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn: $351
  • Full Tank of gas first day: $29
  • Stopped to fill up gas on the last town before arriving at Oakhurst: $15
  • Miscellaneous items from Dollar Tree: $7
  • Yosemite Park Entrance 7 day pass: $30
  • Snacks at Yosemite Village: $6
  • Mcdonalds Breakfast-2nd day: $9
  • Fill up tank on Second day: $30
  • Dinner at Round Table Pizza-2nd day: $18
  • Jack in the box breakfast-3rd day: $8
  • Flowers plus small birthday cake for my girlfriend: $36
  • Mcdonalds breakfast-4th day: $8
  • Taco Dinner-4th day @ Oakhurst: $25
  • Gas fill up-3rd day: $15
  • Gas fill up for day leaving: $20

As you can see, traveling doesn’t need to be super expensive. All you need is planning and timing.

Going during weekdays and in the off season ensures that prices and crowds are low.

As an added bonus I was able to save on fuel since I was driving a very fuel efficient rented Nissan Sentra that was paid by my insurance company while my car was in the body shop for a fender bender.


Here are some pictures of my trip: