Is driving out of San Fran in the direction of Yosemite straight forward?
Probably from Hotel in Union Sq or Fisherman's Wharf.
Yes, sort of. I think getting out of San Francisco thru the traffic is the most challenging part, but I'm not fond of city driving.
The entrance to Yosemite that has the fewest road changes is Hwy 120, but it will still involve several 'turns' as you leave the Bay Area.
Get on I-80, the Bay Bridge. (That should be relatively easy to do from your hotel. Union Square is much closer to I-80.)
I-580 east (seems southward at this point)
I-5 (very briefly)
Hwy 120 (keep an eye on the signs to be sure you are staying on Hwy 120)
You should repost this on the San Francisco forum specifically, rather than the general California forum, to get more response.
I'm not quite sure what you're asking. You will have to drive on city streets for about 10-15 minutes before you get to the freeway. After that, you drive over the bridge and out along a long stretch of freeways until you're in the Central Valley and cut off onto local highways.
Hello, RJ71, and welcome to the California forum. Hmmmm. . . what is meant by a Welshman by the term "straight forward?" I take it to mean "easy" or "readily doable."
San Francisco is a closely packed, metropolitan city in a hilly peninsula of some 700,000 plus people. Due to geography and population, streets aren't all they are desired to be compared to a relatively flat terrain such as Las Vegas, Nevada. Not much room to manuever compared to some other western US metro cities, lots of pedestrians, and blocks are short and pass by quickly (at least from my perspective as a Mojave Desert 'dog). Streets are often crowded with traffic.
Even so, you will find you can manuever just fine with the appropriate precautions. I'll leave the exact street by street blow by blow descriptions for the local Bay Area forum participants (Ramblin Sal or someone of her caliber should be coming along hopefully).
In general, your most efficient route towards Yosemite is Interstate 80 east through the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to Interstate 580 EAST (the West leg takes you back to Richmond and Marin County and points north). You will need to be in the appropriate lane for the merge, and I'd recommend you to be in the appropriate lane as early as you can (local SF Bay forum folks can give more precise info here). Past Altamont Pass, you can either stay "forward" straight by using California State Route 120, or stay with Interstate 580 and merging with Interstate 5 south to California State Route 132 east to California State Route 99 south to California State Route 140 (Yosemite Highway).
A last note: there is no one road in Fisherman's Wharf or in Union Square where you use it to enter Interstate 80 or any other freeway (San Francisco hates freeways, and has actually gotten rid of some in the last 20 or so years). You will use a combination of streets, with necessary right and left turns. Some streets in some places are one way streets, so keep this in mind. The number of onramps to Interstate 80 are few in number, so getting to the onramp heading in the proper direction will be key. But it's all doable for the diligent and careful driver.
Another thought: it's easier for an international visitor such as yourself to start from Los Angeles, rent a car (hire a car) and go to Yosemite and then to San Francisco. That gives you the experience of driving on the right hand side of the road in the United States before you get to the unique driving experience San Francisco is.
RJ71 ~ what is your current itinerary? Are you planning a May or September trip? If you were still planning to end your trip in San Francisco, I'd suggest that you drop the car as soon as you arrive. But that obviously isn't the plan now.
We are seeing a lot of visitors wondering about routes and if the roads are straightforward and I have even seen one asking for TA regulars' cell numbers in case they get lost
It is completely natural to wonder if they will get lost or run into issues. Add to that there is driving on the wrong side of the road for some countries.
I know it costs more but a vacation should not be all that worrisome. Get a gps in the car. Or perhaps make sure you have a maps enabled phone but it may be more costly based on international data plansEdited: 14 September 2011, 15:37
I think visitors also need to know that in California the car is king and our roads match that attitude. On the roads that tourists would normally drive all roads are very well, maintained, wide and well-marked. Even 2 lane roads are divided and wide enough for large trucks and large Rvs to have plenty of room.