See California's Natural Bounty From Fresno County—and Save Money
By BARRY EITEL
A vacation to California’s most beloved national parks is a lot more affordable than you might think. While resorts and hotels in San Francisco, Napa Valley and Tahoe can easily cost hundreds of dollars each night, there is another option that is much more affordable, and still very refined: Fresno County. As the fifth largest city in California, Fresno is considered the hub to anything you may want to enjoy in the Central Valley.A walkable, wonderful city with more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Fresno County feels like it was built to be enjoyed outdoors. With great dining options, excellent shopping and plenty of activities, Fresno County has enough fun to fill a weekend or an afternoon. It also has a giant selection of accommodations that can fit any budget, making it a relaxing basecamp to explore everything the region has to offer.
Fresno County's proximity to multiple national parks makes it the best city to stay in if you want to witness California’s diverse natural beauty. Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are all within a 90-minute drive from Fresno.
Yosemite is home to several breathtaking rock formations like the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The park also features miles of hiking trails and multiple waterfalls worthy of anyone’s Instagram.
The rushing Kings River runs through Kings Canyon, which is also home to countless pristine lakes. Sequoia, of course, is beloved for its famous giant sequoia trees. It’s the home of the largest living organism, the General Sherman Tree.Leave your car at home and enjoy the year-round shuttle between Fresno and Yosemite called YARTS. A roundtrip ticket between Fresno and Yosemite costs only $30 per person, with discounts offered for seniors over 62 and children under 12. Even better, the fare includes the entrance fee to the park. Big Trees Transit is another public transit option that runs between late May and early September every year. This shuttle connects Fresno with Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. Roundtrip tickets cost just $15 per person.
For Big Trees Transit, reservations are recommended – you don’t want to miss out on visiting a national park because you tried to get a walk-up ticket. Also, the shuttles used by both organizations are very roomy and comfortable, perfect for families with young children or seniors.
Within each park, shuttle transport is free, so a vehicle is really not necessary for anyone visiting Yosemite, Sequoia or Kings Canyon, especially if you are just planning a daylong visit.Visit Fresno County, California’s year-round playground!