Driving from Yosemite to South Tahoe

Aug 12th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Driving from Yosemite to South Tahoe

It looks like there's a few choices for driving from Yosemite Valley to South Shore. There's the 120/Tioga Pass Rd, over to 395 and then north. This road on the map looks very windy, and very high altitude. What's it like to drive it?

Or, we could go west on 120, north to Jackson, then 88 on up. I wondered which way was "better", and what the differences are. The two routes look like they take the same amount of time. Thanks! (This would be in late August.)
nvl325 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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The Tioga Pass road is paved and generally good road. Yes it is windy, but there are incredible vistas and sights. Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, and the Meadow at the top, where the east park gate is. I think it tops out at about 9200 feet. Many will climb nearby Mt Dana (across the meadow on the right) as a half day excursion. (Not me).
Just outside the east gate, is a lodge/cafe, on the left, can't recall the name, with the best peach and berry cobbler you can find.
The Lee Vining grade down to the town of Lee Vining is along the side of a sheer granite cliff, and can be a little nerve wracking, depending on your spirit. But the road is good, paved, two lane. The little town of LeeVining has many restaurants, and is adjacent to Mono Lake.
Just to the north, a turnoff to the east will take you to Bodie, a bona vide ghost town that is very interesting.

Don't know how much time you have on this drive, cause there's plenty to see.
120 then 88 over Carson Pass is also very beautiful, and the road is good also.
Are you going to do this in one day? That's aggressive, but do-able, either way.
Please realize, that the mountain pass roads are slow driving, with the curves, 2 lanes, and places you'll want to stop and take in the views. Also, could be a lot of tourist traffic.
395 north of LeeVining is generally faster.
Hope this helps.
BillJ is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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We (well, the DH did the driving of course) did this several years ago in early July. Tuolumne Meadows was absolutely gorgeous...the scenery there was so uniquely beautiful, I recommend it if you can. It felt like a pretty long day that day, but we crammed a lot in, having come from Sequioa/Kings Canyon that morning so you should have it much easier.
musicfan is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 07:19 AM
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120 may be windy but you'd still be in the park and there is alot to see. Once you get on 395 it's not really windy. It is really a nice drive though. I especially like driving through the ranch lands just north out of Bridgeport. The sierra that you'll see on your left is just amazing. So rugged. Then through the Walker River canyon area, so lovely. There's a BBQ place in Walker that's great.
Suzie is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 09:34 AM
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All that is so helpful! I have to admit the "sheer granite cliff" gives me pause, but it sounds like a nice drive, nonetheless. Found Walker on the map, good tip about the bbq.

Supposed to take a little over 4 hrs without stops- does that sound about right?
nvl325 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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If you are talking from yosemite valley then yes it will take that. You may find yourself stopping on your way out of yosemite to see the great views though.

Don't worry too much about the drive down the grade. People do it all the time and the road is wide and well maintained.
Suzie is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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Take Tioga Pass up highway 395. Far more scenic.

Allow much more than 4 hours if you haven't visited Tuolumne Meadows. In August, it is definitely the best part of Yosemite.

Allow time to visit Mono Lake and Bodie State Park.

Oh yes, the BBQ place in Walker (on the right, not far from where you come out of the canyon) is good.
Marginal is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 06:15 PM
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For someone who hasn't made the drive before, I would actually plan most of a day for the trip over Tioga Pass and up 395. There is so much to see/stop for Pix. Plus it takes about 2 hours for a detour to Bodie.
janisj is offline  
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