One of the most frustrating aspects of planning a hike of the John Muir Trail used to be getting from the Fresno bus or train station, or from the airport, to Yosemite Valley. All that is about to change.
Last week I was lucky enough to have an extensive conversation with Mr. Dick Whittington, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) Manager. He had good news and lots of it.
Sometime this summer, most likely in June, YARTS is going to start daily service from Fresno to Yosemite. The plan is to offer service seven days a week and as many as four or five trips per day. Within Fresno the bus will stop at the three places I mention above, plus two or three others. On the way it will stop at Wawona and four different places in the valley: Camp Curry, the Ahwahnee, the Visitors’ Center, and the Yosemite Lodge. Travel time between the airport and the valley will be about four hours.
The fare will be somewhere around $30, round trip, and one-way tickets will be available.
For John Muir Trail thru-hikers who come from out of state this makes transportation easy. Fly into Fresno-Yosemite Airport, take YARTS to the valley, walk to Lone Pine (okay, that part isn’t really easy), take ESTA to Mammoth Lakes, then get back on YARTS (in front of the Shiloh Inn) for a trip back to Yosemite Valley, and conclude with a bus trip on YARTS back to Fresno.
As has always been the case: backpacks are welcome–perhaps even expected.
Mr. Whittington was a wealth of information. I know a lot more about YARTS, now, than I did before talking to him. Do you know, for example, how many employees YARTS has?
None…zip…nada. The entire operation, including the management, is contracted out. There is a Board of Directors made up of elected officials from Mono, Mariposa, and Merced counties. And I always thought it was run by the park service.
For those of us who live close to the Sierra Nevada, this probably doesn’t mean much, but for the people who come from all over the world to hike this hike, life has just gotten easier.
Special thanks to Jim Clement of the Vermilion Valley Resort for alerting me to this development.
Oh, and one more bit of good news: if you are on the bus, entry into the park is free!
Good hiking, Ray