The Tioga Road is the most scenic road through Yosemite National Park. With the famous Tioga Pass, which is located at an altitude of 3,031 meters. It is the highest mountain pass in the United States.
Actually, this is California State Route 120, CA 120 for short. It starts on I-5 at Manteca, with the endpoint being US6 at Benton (Mono County). It traverses the world-famous Yosemite Natural Park. This road is affectionately referred to as Tioga Road by many Americans.
The road is considered one of the most beautiful in America. It takes you from Crane Flat to Tuolumne Meadows, passing forests, alpine meadows, lakes, and the famous granite peaks.
The two routes of Tioga Road
You have two options for routing the area. Either you enter the park from the east towards Yosemite Valley, driving from a great height into the valley. Which is very impressive.
Or you drive up the mountain massif. Which gives you more the feeling you are driving in the mountains, I noticed. Do look back from time to time, to enjoy the spectacular view of the valley.
Viewpoints along Tioga Road:
Americans love resting places, preferably with viewpoints. Where they stretch their legs, have a drink, and take a lot of pictures. And yes, it is smart to stop at the various viewpoints along the way. Some are along the road. For other viewpoints, you have to walk a bit. This greatly improves the experience of this area. Take your time driving along Tioga Road.
The famous Tuolumne Meadows is a view over a plain in Yosemite National Park. It is a rugged area, where wildlife such as deer is regularly seen. Especially in the early morning, you have a chance of wildlife here. There is also a camping site.
Olmstead Point is one of Yosemite’s relatively unknown gems. This vantage point gives you a wide view over Clouds Rest, with Half Dome in the background. It can be reached via Tioga Road. You can park along the road.
The not really well known Tenaya Lake is a mountain lake with crystal clear water. This is due to the many minerals in the water. You can have a picnic here and take in the scenery quietly. It is also a very good place for photos.
What is also special here is that you can clearly see in various places that immense glaciers have been at work here. Especially in the morning this place is almost magical.
Hiking trails along the Tioga Road
There are numerous hiking routes that start along Tioga Road. Such as the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead and the Murphy Creek Trailhead.
Tioga Road closed in winter
Keep in mind that the road is often closed in winter (usually November to the end of May) due to snow. But it also closes in bad weather. You can easily check online whether the road is open.
More information: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tioga.htm