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The Tioga Road

Tioga Road may be off Broadway, but it's remoteness, not quality, that's the cause. Most visitors enter Yosemite through one of the three western gates, and far more people spend their time cavorting in Yosemite Valley than make the winding drive up to see the brightest lights of the Tioga region, which are at the eastern end of the park.

It's worth the trip, though. Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows would be stars in any lineup, and the Tioga Road area is packed with overlooked gems like the Gaylor Lakes trail. The Tuolumne Grove, though not as large as the more famous Mariposa Grove, still contains dozens of thousand-odd-year-old Giant Sequoias. The numbers are in your favor, too: there are more hikes along the Tioga Road than in any other part of Yosemite.

Lodging

There are both wood-frame and tent cabins at the White Wolf Lodge, which lies about 15 miles (24 km) from the Tioga Road's western intersection at Crane Flat. The Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, just east of Tuolumne Meadows, is not a lodge at all, but a series of tent cabins. Like the Tioga Road itself, these accomodations are summer only. They're usually reserved months in advance, but you can check for availablity here. You can also try the Tioga Pass Resort, just outside the park's eastern entrance at 9,600 feet (2,925 meters) elevation. It has both cabins and traditional motel rooms and is open year round.

Food

You can buy snacks at Crane Flat and at the Tuolumne Meadows store. If you're the sort who likes to photograph the sunset on your hikes and doesn't get back to the trailhead until dusk is falling, you'll likely find these both closed by the time you reach them. There's a cafe at the Tioga Pass Resort, just east of the park.

Gas

You can buy gas at Crane Flat, the western terminus of the Tioga Road, and at the store near the east end of Tuolumne Meadows. Make sure your credit card is well below its limit.

You'll also find various gas, food, and lodging options 12 miles (19 km) east of the Tioga Pass entrance at Lee Vining, where the Tioga Pass Road meets Highway 395.

Tioga Road Hikes

Trail Distance
miles (km)
Elevation Gain
feet (meters)
Crowd Factor Scenery Factor Difficulty
Cathedral Lakes 7.0 (11.2)* 800 (240)* Cathedral Lakes Crowd Factor: 3/5 Cathedral Lakes Scenery Rating: 4/5
Clouds Rest 14.5 (23.3) 1,775 (540) Clouds Rest Crowd Factor: 3/5 Clouds Rest Scenery Rating: 5/5
Dog Lake 2.8 (4.5)* 750 (225)* Dog Lake Crowd Factor: 2/5 Dog Lake Scenery Rating: 3/5
Elizabeth Lake 4.6 (7.4) 900 (270) Elizabeth Lake Crowd Factor: 3/5 Elizabeth Lake Scenery Rating: 3/5
Gaylor Lakes 3 (4.8)* 600 (180)* Gaylor Lakes Crowd Factor: 2/5 Gaylor Lakes Scenery Rating: 4/5
Glen Aulin (Tuolumne Falls/White Cascade) 13 (21) 600 (180) Glen Aulin Crowd Factor: 4/5 Glen Aulin Scenery Rating: 4/5
Harden Lake 5.8 (9.3) 300 (90) Harden Lake Crowd Factor: 2/5 Harden Lake Scenery Rating: 2/5
Lembert Dome 2.8 (4.5)* 900 (275)* Lembert Dome Crowd Factor: 2/5 Lembert Dome Scenery Rating: 3/5
Lower Gaylor Lake 4.6 (7.4)* 800 (245)* Lower Gaylor Lake Crowd Factor: 2/5 Lower Gaylor Lake Scenery Rating: 3/5
Lukens Lake 1.6 (2.5)* 200 (60)* Lukens Lake Crowd Factor: 3/5 Lukens Lake Scenery Rating: 2/5
Lyell Canyon 1.4 (2.2)* < 100 (30)* Lyell Canyon Crowd Factor: 2/5 Lyell Canyon Scenery Rating: 2/5
May Lake & Mt. Hoffmann 2.5 (4)* 500 (150)* May Lake Crowd Factor: 3/5 May Lake Scenery Rating: 4/5
Mono Pass 7.4 (12)* 900 (275) Mono Pass Crowd Factor: 3/5 Mono Pass Scenery Rating: 4/5
North Dome 8.8 (14.2) -560 (-170) North Dome Crowd Factor: 3/5 North Dome Scenery Rating: 4/5
Olmsted Point 0.25 (0.4) < 100 Olmsted Point Crowd Factor: 4/5 Olmsted Point Scenery Rating: 4/5
Pothole Dome & Tuolumne River 2.5 (4) 250 (75) Pothole Dome and Tuolumne River Crowd Factor: 2/5 Pothole Dome and Tuolumne River Scenery Rating: 3/5
Snow Creek Trail 10 (16)* 1,700 (520)* Snow Creek Trail Crowd Factor: 3/5 Snow Creek Trail Scenery Rating: 3/5
Spillway Lake 8 (13) 800 (240) Spillway Lake Crowd Factor: 3/5 Spillway Lake Scenery Rating: 3/5
Sunrise Lakes 8.8 (14)* 1,300 (395) Sunrise Lakes Crowd Factor: 3/5 Sunrise Lakes Scenery Rating: 3/5
Tenaya Lake 2.5 (4) 0 Tenaya Lake Crowd Factor: 3/5 Tenaya Lake Scenery Rating: 5/5
Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias 2.5 (4) -400 (-120) Tuolumne Grove Crowd Factor: 3/5 Tuolumne Grove Scenery Rating: 3/5
Tuolumne Meadows 2 (3.2)* 0 Tuolumne Meadows Crowd Factor: 4/5 Tuolumne Meadows Scenery Rating: 4/5

* For hikes that have more than one possible route, this table lists distance and elevation for the shortest route. Or the longest one. Whatever seemed the most interesting at the moment.

Highlights of the Tioga Road Area

Tioga Road Historical Opening and Closing Dates

The Tioga Road is Yosemite's highest, peaking at just under 10,000 feet, and is usually closed from sometime in November until May or early June. It typically gets shut down for the season after the first big winter storm, whenever that happens to arrive.


Year Opening Date Closing Date
2013 May 11 November 18
2012 May 7 November 17
2011 June 18 January 18, 2012
2010 June 5 November 19
2009 May 20 November 12
2008 May 21 October 30
2007 May 11 December 7
2006 June 17 November 29
2005 June 24 November 25
2004 May 14 October 17
2003 May 31 October 31
2002 May 22 November 5
2001 May 12 November 11
2000 May 18 November 9
1999 May 28 November 23
1998 July 1 November 12
1997 June 13 November 12
1996 May 31 November 5
1995 June 30 December 11
1994 May 25 November 10
1993 June 3 November 24
1992 May 15 November 10
1991 May 26 November 14
1990 May 17 November 19

 

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