Tioga Pass in Yosemite -- How to drive it?

Sep 20th, 2009, 03:16 PM
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Tioga Pass in Yosemite -- How to drive it?

Hi all,

We're thinking of driving the Tioga Pass in Yosemite. Is it better to drive from west to east or east to west? Which way has better views or easier/more convenient to drive? I've seen a lot of descriptive info on the area, but no clear logistics info.

Please help.

Thanks!
JC98 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 04:08 PM
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I'm not sure there is a better way. It is gorgeous either way. I live west of the area so I always approach it from the west. I think entering Tuolumne Meadows from the west is a bit more dramatic, but then again driving up Tioga Pass from Lee Vining is also very dramatic.
iamq is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 04:09 PM
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By driving east to west you are on the inside of the road going into the park so anyone nervous about being at the edge of the road would be more comfortable heading west. Also heading into the park means that the views unfold in front of you.
Suzie is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Having grown up on the east side of the mts I love the view dropping down from the pass towards Lee Vining. But then I may be a bit partial!

There are viewpoints along the way. Whichever way you go you can stop to enjoy the view.

Serendipity42
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Sep 20th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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I've done it east to west, and I'm going back soon to do it both ways, up and down. (or down and up!) I don't think it would matter.
Carrabella is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 02:11 PM
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Thanks, all, for the good info!

Some more questions:
We're driving from southern CA and want to enter Yosemite just to do Tioga Pass and need to end up in Sacramento by Sat night. If we start from Bakersfield on Friday morning, can we make it?

1) Should we drive Tioga Road (west to east), end up in Lee Vining, and take 395 north and then some other roads to Sacramento?

or
2) Drive Tioga Road west to east and then turn around and go back the same way on 120 and then go north on 99 or 5 to Sacramento?

Which way would help save time?

Thanks!
JC98 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 02:32 PM
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"1) Should we drive Tioga Road (west to east), end up in Lee Vining, and take 395 north and then some other roads to Sacramento?

or
2) Drive Tioga Road west to east and then turn around and go back the same way on 120 and then go north on 99 or 5 to Sacramento?
"

Neither IMO. In your situation, From B'field I'd go to Tehachapi and up 395 and do Tioga east to west. When you finish you'll be on the west side of YNP and have an easy drive to Sacramento.

Important question -- when do you plan this drive?
janisj is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 02:49 PM
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I was totally thinking the way janis described. Up 395 then onto 120 then to 99 to Sacramento. If the drive is this fall you may be treated to some really spectacular color on the eastern Sierra which will make the drive totally worth it.
Suzie is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 03:28 PM
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I prefer driving Tioga West to East, then north on 395 to one of the other passes, such as Hwy 4 or 88. But Janisj and Suzie make a very good point.
elnap29 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 03:57 PM
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I agree with Janis and Suzie, but the all-important question is when?
Barbara is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 05:43 PM
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If one is nervous about winding, twisting roads, it is better to go up hill than downhill because the car stops naturally once one takes the foot of the accelerator. So east to west would be the better choice because the steep side of Tioga Pass is on the eastern slope.
Michael is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 09:55 PM
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Thanks, all, for the great tips!

Good suggestion about driving north on 395 and do Tioga Pass east to west. We've driven this portion of 395 before, and it's a beautiful drive and don't mind doing it again. But we have never gone north of Mono Lake; that's why we're thinking of the other option of going Tioga Pass west to east and north of 395.

How is the scenery north of Mono Lake? Worth the effort? Otherwise, we'll follow the unanimous suggestion. From google map, the newly suggested route is about 20 minutes shorter than my option 1 though.

Thanks for pointing out the drive from west to east on Tioga is also scarier. That's also another concern.

What lodging options we have along Tioga Road other than camping? Should we be concerned about bears here?

So many questions, and very appreciate all your help!
JC98 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 09:57 PM
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Forgot to answer when we're going. This weekend!

Thanks!
JC98 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 10:22 PM
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Then you should make it before it snows! Have a great trip.

For lodging, there's the Tioga Pass Resort.

http://www.tiogapassresort.com/
Barbara is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 04:26 AM
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I loved Tioga Pass and since we were headed east, that was what we did. But I love Yosemite more. I guess if you live in CA you can think of doing it "just to drive to Tioga Pass".
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Sep 22nd, 2009, 05:02 AM
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I'm sorry, but I don't think of the Tioga Pass Road through Yosemite as a "scary" road. I don't find the west to east route any "scarier" either. I honestly don't think one way is less scary than the other regardless of which side of the road you're on.

I've stayed at the Tioga Pass Resort a couple of times. The lodging is rustic and simple. We like cabin #4. Call them today to see if they have openings. My guess is that they do. The place is booked solid in the summer, but it will be much quieter now.

Which ever way you go, please don't treat Tuolumne Meadows as a drive-by "ooooo, ahhhhhh". Spend some time and wander around the meadow, maybe take a short hike if the weather is cooperating. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
iamq is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 11:11 PM
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Thanks again for all the good info.

Question: Is it ok to drive on 395 at night? From the south to Mammoth? Is the road curvy?

Thanks!
JC98 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 11:34 PM
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A slight change to the question: We'll only have time to drive to Bishop instead of Mammoth from the south. Is the drive easy or difficult to Bishop -- gain in elevation or winding?

Thanks!
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Sep 24th, 2009, 06:20 AM
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As I recall, the 395 is pretty straight. There are some bends, but mostly pretty straight. What you have to watch out for are police speed traps. When you enter one of the small towns, which all have low speed limits, DO NOT EXCEED THE SPEED LIMIT!
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Sep 24th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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The road is fine. No curves, no mountain driving. After Bishop it's a freeway to Lee Vining and the turn off to Tioga Pass.
Suzie is offline  

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