Things to do in
Sierra Nevada, CA

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Sierra Nevada, CA: Our most recommended tours and activities

South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

1. South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

Embark on a 2-hour sightseeing cruise starting in South Lake Tahoe either at sunset or during the day. Enjoy the scenic beauty while cruising 11 kilometers across the lake to Emerald Bay, one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. See the majestic mountains of South Lake Tahoe while onboard the world-class Tahoe Bleu Wave yacht. As you cruise, you will find indoor and outdoor seating with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the snow-capped mountains, Fannette Island, Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Waterfall, and the Rubicon. Navigate the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe while hearing your captain's narration about this lake. You may even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese. If you've chosen the sunset option, relax and watch the sun dip low below the sky.

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San Francisco: Yosemite National Park & Giant Sequoias Hike

2. San Francisco: Yosemite National Park & Giant Sequoias Hike

The Total Yosemite Experience is the only 1-day tour to combine the Yosemite Valley and a Giant Sequoia Walk all in the same day. See why artists and poets have been inspired for generations. Since 1890, beautiful Yosemite National Park has been the jewel of America's National Parks, possessing some of the best–known landmarks in the world, such as the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls. You'll have 5-6 hours to explore the stunning national park, and take in the majestic natural wonders, accompanied by a complimentary audio guided tour. Yosemite is home to the spectacular Half Dome & El Capitan, 2 of the most frequently climbed cliffs in the world. It is also home to several groves of stunning Giant Sequoia trees, the largest trees on earth. The Giant Sequoia Walk is along 1 mile (1.5 km) of paved trail with a 400 ft (120 m) incline, snow depth permitting. Experiencing Yosemite in a friendly group, you will see stunning panoramas, go on walks, and even hike a little, before returning to San Francisco. Or if you prefer, you can upgrade to a private tour for your group only.

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San Francisco to Yosemite Park Small Group Tour

3. San Francisco to Yosemite Park Small Group Tour

Escape the crowds of San Francisco on a full-day tour to Yosemite National Park. Travel by comfortable, responsible transportation in a bio-fueled mini-coach. Heading east across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge offers great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. En route to the park the tour crosses through the Central Valley, where you will stop at a fruit stand for some local produce. Famous for its rich volcanic soil, the Central Valley is the largest agricultural region in the United States. The section the tour drives through is best known for speciality fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries. After this quick rest stop, you will enter the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Continuing into the mountains brings you to California gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland before the tour winds its way into Yosemite National Park. On your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite's glaciated valley, you will see famous waterfalls and rock formations including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Continue on past El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome, and much more. During the tour you will see Yosemite Valley from a number of great vantage points, the best of which is perhaps Inspiration Point. After the tour, you will stop for the afternoon near the base of Yosemite Falls. If you have not already picked up picnic supplies, there are many options for getting lunch in the park. You will have 3-4 hours of free time to explore the valley as you choose. You can walk to the base of Yosemite Falls, check out the visitor center, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, stop in at the Ahwahnee Hotel, rent a cruiser bike, or hike some of the trails that originate from the valley. Although you could easily spend 3 weeks in Yosemite, the 3 hours you get on your own is enough time to understand why Yosemite is one of America's most popular national parks.

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From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

4. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

Travel through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra Foothills where Forty-Niners panned for Gold. Follow the beautiful Merced River to the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Glaciers cut through these mountains forming spectacular granite monuments you will see throughout the park. Spend a total of 4 hours within the Yosemite National Park: 1-hour on a guided tour and 3 hours to explore on your own. There is the option of selecting a Chinese-speaking guide on certain days. Take advantage of the photo opportunities at: • El Capitan • Bridalveil Falls • Vernal Falls • Yosemite Falls • Cathedral Spires • Half Dome

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Lake Tahoe: Sunset Snowshoe Trek with Hot Drinks and Snacks

5. Lake Tahoe: Sunset Snowshoe Trek with Hot Drinks and Snacks

Embark on a guided snowshoeing trek at sunset to experience the beauty of Lake Tahoe’s high country that can only be accessed on foot. Experience the solitude and quiet that define winter in the Tahoe Truckee area while enjoying hot drinks and snacks. After meeting your guide at a location in the North Shore or Truckee area (location based on snowpack and weather), gear up and set out on a trek featuring the amazing views around Lake Tahoe. Venture into the surrounding wilderness and immerse yourself in the tranquility of a snowy forest. Trek on a trail based on you and your group's activity level as well as the snowpack. If you are looking for more of a challenge, you can continue to the top of one of the nearby peaks for panoramic views that can't be beaten. Many options exist for every ability level. 

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Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay Helicopter Flight

6. Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay Helicopter Flight

Take off from south Lake Tahoe and enjoy fantastic scenery on a helicopter flight. See several scenic landmarks including Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, Taylor Creek, and Pope Beach as you fly towards breathtaking Emerald Bay. Admire the views of granite and forested landscapes surrounding Emerald Bay. See Eagle Falls which feeds into the lakes shimmering emerald-green waters. Take in these incredible sights from a helicopter for a truly memorable experience over Lake Tahoe.

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San Jose: Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Trip

7. San Jose: Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Trip

Towering granite cliffs and giant sequoias headline this full-day Yosemite tour from San Jose. Expert guides will make sure you don’t miss the history, geology, wildflowers, and wildlife, that have made this glacier-carved valley the jewel of America’s national park system. Your Yosemite Giant Sequoia Tour from San Jose begins with pickup from your hotel, then heads east crossing through California’s fertile San Joaquin (aka Central) Valley and into the craggy Sierra Nevada mountains. This is the only Yosemite Valley tour where you will also experience the solitude of the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias, the largest living things on earth. You’ll reconsider your place in the world, 2,000-year-old trees can make people do that. Your heart (and camera) will be racing as you enter Yosemite Valley, enjoying stops at Inspiration Point and El Capitan Meadow. You will stop for moments at Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls, with plenty of time allocated to "take some selfies". Yosemite is open year-round, and if you visit in the winter months, you can picture Yosemite Valley covered in soft white snow, with animal footprints scattered about in the meadows and the snow-capped Half Dome casting its long shadow.

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Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour

8. Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour

Join an eco-friendly, small group guided tour and witness the stunning Yosemite National Park. Choose between three pickup locations covering hotels on Highway 41, 140 & 120. Then drive 30-60 minutes through Yosemite National Park to reach Yosemite Valley. On the way, your guide will explain the history and geology before stopping at El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith. Your guide will provide a park orientation and hiking briefing so you can wander around alone. Be dropped off either at Curry Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge in the park. During your 5 hours of free time, explore Yosemite either by hiking its most famous trails or biking your way around Yosemite Valley.  Marvel at views of Half Dome, a granite dome known for its distinct shape. Go for a swim in the nearby Merced River to cool down from Yosemite’s summer heat. Your expert guide can recommend the best trails and where to rent a bike.  After a day of exploration, meet your guide back at either Curry Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge to be dropped off back at your original point: Yosemite View Lodge.

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From Lake Tahoe: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Tour

9. From Lake Tahoe: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Tour

Enjoy traveling in a luxury 28-passenger mini bus to the High Sierra. You’ll leave South Lake Tahoe at 06:00 on the 3-hour drive to the main valley of Yosemite National Park. This breathtaking adventure provides an unforgettable opportunity to savor the vast array of stunning High Sierra features made famous by the likes of John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams. The exclusive documentary tour includes a full-day of sightseeing in one of America’s favorite national parks, conducted by a Yosemite expert. The tour price includes transportation, the park admission fee, a delicious picnic lunch with an assortment of beverages, and a seasonal hike to the Bridalveil Fall or Yosemite Falls. Spend around 6 hours in the park, driving from one scenic location to the next. You can exit the bus to admire the scenery and take photos at each stop. When you reach the main valley at around noon, you’ll enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. On the way back the mini-bus will stop at O'Nelly Deli so you can have a bite to eat and something to drink. You’ll arrive in South Lake Tahoe at around 20:00.

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Lake Tahoe: Zephyr Cove Helicopter Flight

10. Lake Tahoe: Zephyr Cove Helicopter Flight

Take off from south of Lake Tahoe and fly along the east shore into the state of Nevada. Witness the beautiful indigo blue waters and teal shorelines as you fly to Zephyr Cove. After circling Zephyr Cove, fly west along the south shoreline past Fallen Leaf Lake and Cascade Lake to Emerald Bay. Take in the beautiful views from the helicopter for an adventure that will last long in the memory.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Sierra Nevada, CA

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What people are saying about Sierra Nevada, CA

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,301 reviews

The guide was very passionate and super nice. He taught us a lot, a lot of stories and all with humor. The bus ride is very long even if the guide does everything to make it pleasant: stories, culture, music, jokes and even movies. Otherwise, the places chosen are truly amazing. Yosemite Park is unique and I think this tour really captures all of its splendor. My only regret that I didn't have time to stop more (but hey, it's the time to not come home too late). What I liked the most was the view from the tunnel as well as the view from the bottom of the valley (last stop before departure). Also, the place for lunch in front of the waterfalls is just unique. As for the agency that takes charge, they are top, available and really take you to the hotel and bring you back there: which is comfortable anyway.

Must do when in SF. Yes it’s a long ride, but it’s so worth the visit! The time you get in the park is around 3h which is ok-ish for a small walk around the lodge to check the falls and maybe some half-dome views. You need days to explore the whole thing! In the winter you don’t get to see the sequoias because the road is closed. We stopped to see the tunnel view which is amazing and also stopped 2 times to see different views of elcap which is breathtaking! The driver was also very good and informative!

This tour was amazing, the guide is very professional and competent. Thank you Denise for making the tour unforgettable.

Well organized tour with adequate rest and bathroom breaks

The tour was really really nice, we were in a small bus,