Learn Something New Every Day!

Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road is an incredible drive.  In fact, it is my favorite scenic drive.  It offers the usual twists, turns and inclines of most mountain roads.  But it also passes through a range of gorgeous landscapes.

Tunnel View

El Capitan

This year, after an unusually heavy winter, the road was not open for unrestricted driving until July (vs. its usual May opening).  In mid-September, I wandered into Yosemite National Park, entering via Wawona and Tunnel View. Eventually, I headed east on Highway 120, officially starting onto Tioga Road near Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance.

From this juncture outside of Yosemite Valley, the drive rises gradually from about 6,000 feet through pine trees, heading along Highway 120 toward Tioga Pass, which is roughly 50 miles away at almost 10,000 feet.  The road itself winds through sheer granite cliffs, showcasing impressive craggy rock walls, trees erupting from the rocks and fantastic views.

There Was Even a Mushroom Growing on a Tree Trunk

There were even some wildflowers still lingering along the road.

I Love Lupine, But This Was the Only Little Bud In Sight

An impressive stop is Olmsted Point, sitting at 7,500 feet.  The trees, by this time, have diminished, and the impressive views of the granite rocks and mountains stretch in all directions.  In the distance, you can even see Half Dome. The boulders are strewn everywhere.

That’s Half Dome in the Distance

At one parking area, there were some butterflies and bees who actually posed a bit for photographs.  This delightful little butterfly is called a Great Spangled Fritillary.

Tenaya Lake is the next gem that surfaces along the road.  Its sparkling blue waters are eye-catching.

My favorite stretch along this drive wanders along Toulumne Meadows.  This wide expanse is a gentle dome-shaped, sub-alpine meadow, sitting at 8,619 feet.  Its 39 inches of rain annually comes mainly in the form of snowfall.  The spring is probably the most beautiful time of year to visit the meadows when there are marshes and wildflowers scattered across the area. I last drove this route in August 2017. But any time of year, the wide expanse is impressive.

Not far past Toulumne Meadows, the drive ascends to Tioga Pass, sitting at 9,945 feet.  From there the road descends fairly quickly on a steep drop to the park entrance not far from U.S. Highway 395.  Tioga Lake sits along this stretch of the route.

As Highway 120 nears Highway 395, the rocks take on a reddish hue indicating some iron must be in the rocks.

At the end of the drive, I settled in at a hotel in Bishop. I stopped at Erick Schat’s Bakkery in the morning before heading home.

It was a great drive!

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DRIVE YOU’VE DISCOVERED IN YOUR TRAVELS?

 

Comments on: "Driving Tioga Road in September" (7)

  1. A beautiful day for a beautiful drive in a beautiful place. Someday I hope to see Yosemite. Meanwhile, thanks for taking me there.

  2. […] other day, a good friend and I stopped overnight in Bishop, after driving the Tioga Road from Yosemite Valley.  Heading home to Bakersfield the next day, it made perfect sense to grab a […]

  3. There’s so much to love about this post. It makes me want to head up to Yosemite right now. When I first starting learning about fritillary butterflies, I thought they were all injured because their wings looked like a piece was missing. But that’s how they are made. And the rocks, love them. Great shots. I’ve always wanted to try Schat’s bakery. Each year our accountant (from SoCal) tells us we should try it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your beautiful ride through Yosemite.

    • Thanks for the info on the fritillary butterflies–I, too, figured they were damaged somehow, even though the missing bits did not seem to affect their flying. I would recommend Schat’s–I stop there whenever a friend and I are in town. She runs in and waits in line to get our orders. I think they also do a mail order delivery, but I have not tried that yet. It is always more fun to travel in the area. I hope to see some fall colors around Bishop later this week.

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