Tioga Road & Tuolumne Meadows – 2 hours one-way drive from The Redwoods

A drive long the Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows is a favorite summertime day trip. At 9,941 feet, Tioga Pass is the highest automobile pass in California. The road is closed once winter storms arrive, and efforts to clear the road of snow do not begin until late spring, with the road targeted to open by late May or early June. Always check current road conditions before planning a Tioga Road excursion. A drive along Tioga Road opens up some of Yosemite’s most stunning scenery, and here are just a few highlights:

  • For any road trip in the Park, but especially along the Tioga Road, we recommend you purchase the Yosemite Road Guide, an informative book keyed to markers along all the Park’s major roadways.
  • Half Dome CablesBe sure to stop at Olmstead Point, one of Yosemite’s most remarkable scenic overlooks. You’ll stand in awe of the expansive views of Tenaya Canyon, the backside of Half Dome (if you mount your binoculars on a tripod, you can actually see hikers climbing the cables to the top of Half Dome), and Clouds Rest. To the east you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of alpine Tenaya Lake and the peaks of the Tuolumne Meadows region.
  • Spread a blanket on one of the many sandy beaches at Tenaya Lake and soak in the peacefulness of this dramatic setting. And if you have a little polar bear blood, take a refreshing swim in the frigid snow-melt fed lake.
  • Drive on to Tuolumne Meadows and stop at the Visitor Center. You can get details about several great short walks or hikes that start out from this area, as well as morning and afternoon ranger-led walks and talks. Tuolumne Meadows is famous for its ever changing array of wildflowers. Ask one of the rangers at the Visitors Center for the best locations for wildflower viewing.
  • Take an easy 1-mile walk to Parsons Memorial Lodge and Soda Springs. Exhibits at the Lodge tell the human history of Tuolumne Meadows, and is the place where John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson conceived the idea of establishing Yosemite National Park.
  • There is a grocery store and grill in Tuolumne Meadows, but if time allows, we suggest you continue east and exit the Park through the Tioga Pass Entrance. Just a short distance farther on the left is the Tioga Pass Resort, a fun place to enjoy a meal before making the return trip to Wawona. (Be sure to have your Park entrance receipt with you for re-entry into the Park. The $20 entrance fee is good for 7 days.)
  • If you are traveling to or from Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, or Las Vegas, you can take this route as a one-way drive as you enter or exit the Park. Make sure you confirm road conditions before finalizing your plans.

On any day trip, always take along a pack with water, snacks, camera, binoculars, insect repellant, and sunscreen. Most scheduled activities, such as ranger-led programs, are offered primarily during the summer months.