I took a bus to Merced from San Francisco – $36, 3 3/4 hours. Merced is the closest that Greyhound goes – you have to catch a local bus to Yosemite itself. I arrived after lunch and was greeted by a very enthusiastic woman at the Welcome Centre. After signing the guest book I saw that I had been the only visitor that day. She let me leave my bag there so I could have a look around.
There is not much to see. If you want extremely cheap groceries there is a good shopping centre not far away – it’s quite ridiculously cheap.
I bought about 1 kg of deli-sliced turkey and chicken for $6. The rest of the town was almost deserted, mid-day, mid-week.
The YARTS bus ($7) arrived at 5.45 and it took almost an hour to reach the Yosemite Bug hostel. When you alight there are no lights to guide you to the hostel. Look for a big bin, and don’t cross the bridge to the right. If you cross a large metal bridge you are going the right way. The hostel was nice, and had a large amount of free food when I was there.You can stay in the National Park itself, but must book a LONG way ahead.
The next morning I took the 8.20am bus to Yosemite ($12 return including park entry). Make sure you check the timetable as the next bus doesn’t go until 12pm! It’s a 1.5hr trip. They have a very good visitor centre, complete with fancy theatre. There is also a proper post office.
There are a few day walks. I chose to go up beside Yosemite Falls. It was so lovely – the temperature was just right, and I sat on a rock eating turkey sandwiches.
The track goes on to the very top, but I didn’t want to wait for the late bus, and instead headed off the track to the patch of snow.