San Francisco/Bay area Distance: 195 mi / 314 km Time:4-5 hours Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite provides great views all year long, but the crowds are lightest in the winter. Be sure to book accommodations well ahead of your visit. Most of my valley views were taken with 12~24mm and 18~200mm zooms and I didn't miss a long tele. A polarizer was handy to cut through any haze and to intensify colors.
A short walk around Mirror Lake at the east end of Yosemite Valley takes you to this view. No breeze was blowing, and with strong afternoon light, good reflections were possible.