SPOTLIGHT ON: Yosemite Mariposa County, California

With a fascinating history, charming locals and culture of its own, Yosemite Mariposa County, home to Yosemite National Park, is a region that begs to be explored.

With a fascinating history, charming locals and culture of its own, Yosemite Mariposa County, home to Yosemite National Park, is a region that begs to be explored.

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite Mariposa County, home to Yosemite National Park, is the epitome of America’s great wilderness. A magnetic mainstay on any road trip through the USA, not only is Yosemite National Park perhaps one of the most photogenic place on the planet, but it’s also an adventure playground and all-round place to chill.

With a long history and wealth built from the Gold Rush, the charming town of Mariposa, located just outside Yosemite National Park’s west entrance, offers a range of activities to suit all ages and activity levels.

Read on for our spotlight guide on all things to do in Yosemite Mariposa County…


TOP 7 YOSEMITE Mariposa County MUST DO’S

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Hiking Half Dome. Credit: Kim Lawson

  • Go skydiving with Yosemite Skydive and then follow it up with a drink and meal at the amazing local bars and restaurants – such as the June Bug Café – in the charming town of Mariposa.
  • Try your luck at panning for gold at the Mariposa Museum & History Centre and learn about the town’s gold mining history. Also worth checking out is the fascinating California State Mining & Mineral Museum.
  • Spend the night in Mariposa and then drive one hour to Yosemite National Park where some amazing vistas await, such as:
    • The iconic Tunnel View scenic lookout point, located at the western entrance of Yosemite Valley, perfectly captures the mighty El Capitan and Half Dome and the roaring 188-metre-tall Bridalveil Fall in the same frame. Perhaps take a picnic here and enjoy the views over lunch?
    • Another iconic shot of Yosemite is to be found at Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome where you can pose in front of the curved tooth of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, as well as the rolling Sierra Nevada high country.
    • Take the short detour from the valley to the southern end of the park and admire the impressive scale of the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. There are around 500 mature giant sequoias here, some reaching 87 metres, and are considered some of the oldest living things in the world.
    • Finally, visit the Lower Yosemite Falls and capture an iconic American road trip shot. To find the perfect vantage spot of the 98-metre waterfall, trek an easy 1-kilometre along a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail to a misty photo point. Visiting the falls in spring is the best time to see this roaring waterfall.
  • You can’t visit Yosemite National Park without putting your hiking shoes on and exploring one of the dozens of trails that skirt throughout the park at least once during your time here. More serious hikers, or anyone that’s up for the challenge, can tackle rigorous day hikes to see some dramatic vistas, whilst those with less time (or enthusiasm) can enjoy a leisurely wander along shaded forest paths amongst equally impressive scenery. We recommend staying here for 3 to 5 days to really soak in all the beauty of the park.
  • For something more extreme, feel the adrenaline pumping through your chest and brain as you zoom along six different ziplines at the Yosemite Zipline Adventure Ranch, located in Mariposa. This two-hour zipline tour of Yosemite National Park is absolutely the best way to enjoy the surrounding vistas. There are also aerial ropes courses, roping lessons, and gold and mineral panning to do once you’re out of your harness.
  • If you’re visiting in winter, hit the slopes on skis or snowboards inside the Badger Pass Ski Area. California’s first established ski area has been a family-friendly winter destination for years, due to its low prices and casual atmosphere with an abundance of slopes open for all levels: beginners to intermediates to advanced. You can also go snowtubing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing here.
  • Finally, before going home, relax and warm up at the Badger Pass Lodge. Enjoy the sweeping views of the surrounding gorgeous landscape over a hot chocolate or glass of wine, or get outside and go snowshoeing or ice skating as well as downhill skiing and snowboarding. Tenaya Lodge is also a fantastic place to go on a snowshoe hike, ice skating, sledding and more. At other times of the year, you can also go hiking, mountain biking, archery and guided fly fishing.

Get Inspired

From panoramic vistas of planet Earth at its most photogenic, to amazing adventure on soil and snow, get inspired by these tantalising visual treats.

Go hiking and look down on the high country of the Sierra Nevada mountains, spot bears in the wilderness, go white-water rafting and tear down slopes on your skis or snowboard.  Whatever you’re into, Yosemite Mariposa County will hand it to you on a silver platter.



Journey through Yosemite Mariposa County to get to Yosemite National Park, featured in the Giant Trees and Ancient Forests itinerary and the perfect itinerary to explore the magnificent parks and wilderness in California. Don’t rush your time through here, as this region of California is a destination in itself. Stop to talk with the friendly locals – they’ll be happy to chat and will give you the local goss on where to go and what to do that’s beyond the beaten tourist trail.

The area is easily accessible and can easily be added to any self-drive itinerary from San Francisco, Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

If coming from San Francisco on the Pacific Northwest Wine Trail itinerary, why not spend a night in historic Mariposa and then head to the National Park fresh and early the next day to get the most out of your time there? It’s only an hour’s drive to reach the west entrance of the park from here along Highway 140 which runs along the Merced River – a hotspot for white-water rafting, swimming and fishing.

From Las Vegas, Yosemite Mariposa County can be added to either the Pacific Coast Music Trail or Canyons, Mesas and Hoodoos itinerary, and from Los Angeles, it can be added to the At the Movies self-drive itinerary.



Viva Holidays are the specialists when it comes to self-drive road trips through the USA, and they’ll be able to look after all your car hire, experiences and accommodation needs along the way. They can even help you get to the locations to start your journey, and offer some pretty amazing deals…

Such as a 2-night stay at Yosemite View Lodge in a Mountain View Room for just $445 per person twin share. You can even add on 5 days of Avis Group C (Ford Focus or similar) car hire from just $169*.

Alternatively, stay at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite in a Premium Room for 2 nights for just $675 per person twin share. Add on 5 days of Avis Group C (Ford Focus or similar) car hire from just $169*.


Find out more from the USA Self-Drive Specialists: https://agents.vivaholidays.com.au/campaigns/land-only/explore-yosemite-mariposa-county-roadtrippin-usa-2020


Chill out to Iron & Wine’s “Such Great Heights” as you gaze out your window to the rolling scenery of Yosemite National Park, and then put on something a little more upbeat, such as the Ike & Tina Tuner’s “River Deep – Mountain High,” as the mighty El Capitan comes into view.

This Spotify playlist will lead you on a sonic journey that perfectly complements your visuals on your road trip to this amazing part of California.


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