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What a beautiful and scenic drive it is from Merced to Yosemite National Park. There are a few different routes to Yosemite, but if you are looking to acutally enjoy the ride up, then taking the Hwy 140 from Merced route is highly recommended.
When going thru Merced there are many different places to eat as well as shop. The city also has several hotel choices if you choose to stay a day before heading up to Yosemite. Once you are on the road it starts as a level agricultural backdrop, until you get near Mariposa when you gradually start to see mountains. After about an hour of driving you start to see wonderful rivers and rock formations. It's such a great drive. It's truely part of the Yosemite Experience!