And, let’s not forget that we also took a good look at the best features of the park from Glacier Point.
Today, I want to take you through one of less visited gems of the park: the Tioga Road.
This road (Highway 120) offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. It is easy to access and well maintained but, for some reason, it only gets a small fraction of the overall park visitors.
Therefore, it is the perfect place to spend some leisure time far from the crowds. I assure you are going to end mesmerized by the views you are going to find here.
It is now time to explore the Tioga Road.
This turnout was named in honor of landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead and his son when the Tioga Road opened to automobile traffic in 1961. Olmstead is considered the father of American landscape architecture and best known for his design of New York’s Central park. He was the chairman of the first commission to manage Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove and wrote a report recommending policy for the care and protection of the park’s scenery and wildlife.
The point affords views of the back face of Half Dome and the mass of granite surrounding it. You can see the symbol of the park from the parking lot area. However, if you walk 0.3 miles, the views get better.
With the correct zoom (or with a telescope), you can see people ascending the top of the dome thru the cables.
In the other direction, you can see Tenaya Lake. Do you see the water in the next picture?
Maybe you can see it better now.
Also, this is a good area to take a look at glacial erratics. These are pieces of rock that differ from the size and type of rock native to the area in which they rest. They were carried over long distances by glacial ice.
There are a lot of them all around Olmstead Point.
For many, this is the most beautiful lake in Yosemite National Park. It was formed by glacial action and named after a chief who lived in the area.
It is not difficult to see why this lake is a favorite to many visitors. Just take a look at how clear are those waters!
I saw several people camping in the shores. It would be awesome to wake up to those gorgeous views.
We saw a lot of people climbing on the rocks located east of the lake. The area is popular with climbers because of the lake views from above.
Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes.
The area is surrounded by domes with names such as the Pothole, Lembert and Fairview. Some of these rocks can be climbed (and they are apt for all ages).
In the area, you can also find the trailhead to several peaks in the Cathedral Range.
It is said that meadows are the best areas to see deer. And, guess what? We saw two of them not that far from us. They passed meters away from two ladies who were walking around.
The Sierra is a land of lakes. We saw about 20 lakes while driving around the park’s high country.
In addition, we saw pine forests, wildlife and tons of granite formations.
The Tioga Pass is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. It reaches a maximum altitude of 9,943 ft or 3,031 m.
By driving east from the Yosemite Valley to the Tuolome Meadows, you are gradually gaining altitude until you reach the maximum elevation close to the eastern entrance (or exit) of the park. Once you exit the park, and after you have driven a few miles, you are going to see the sharp eastern Sierra descent.
Have to admit it is a very pretty view but, for people with fear of heights, this pass is a true nightmare.
The road continues until it reaches US-395 and Mono Lake.
- Stop by the Tuolome Meadows Visitor’s Center to get more information about the area and the park in general.
- There is a cafeteria and general store a mile away east of the Visitor’s Center.
- For day hikes from the Tuolume Meadows, go here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmhikes.htm
- Restrooms are located at several points through the road. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
- A free shuttle connects the Yosemite Valley with several points in the road.
- There is another shuttle that takes people from Mammoth Lakes and June Lake to the eastern side of the park.
- The Tioga Road is generally open to vehicles from late May or early June through sometime in November.
Would you like to drive the Tioga Road?
Pin it for later?