Location:  60 miles (96 km) from Yosemite entrance; 90 miles (144 km) from Yosemite Valley; via Highway 41
population 471,479; elevation 330 feet (100 meters)

Few people visiting Yosemite consider using Central Valley cities like Fresno (motto: "At least we're not Bakersfield") as a base, but the mileage is doable if you're pinched by a no-vacancy overload closer to the park.

Pro:  With a metropolitan area of over a million people, you'll always be able to find a hotel here. And there must be something wonderful to do here somewhere, since a surprising number of Fresnans I've talked to have never bothered to go to Yosemite.

Con:  It can be done, but this is a long drive to do every day of your vacation. In addition, Fresno has one of the highest auto-theft rates in the nation, which might make you uneasy about leaving your car outside unattended for several hours while you sleep. For Yosemite visitors coming up via Highway 41, Oakhurst and Fish Camp are better options.