Tioga Pass (el. 9,943 ft. / 3,031 m.) is a mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. State Route 120 runs through it, and serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park, at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station. It is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. Mount Dana is to the east of the pass. There are several trailheads into the Yosemite backcountry which begin at Tioga Pass, including the trail to the Gaylor Lakes to the west/northwest, and the rough trail to the summit of Mount Dana. Dana Meadows is immediately south of the pass alongside the highway, as the pass itself is roughly angled north/south as opposed to east/west. Dana Meadows contains several small lakes. This pass, like many other passes in the Sierra Nevada, has a gradual approach from the west and drops off to the east dramatically, losing more than 3,000 ft (914 m) by the time the road reaches U.S. Route 395. Tioga Pass is named after Tioga Mine, whose name originated in New York: "Tioga" is named for an Iroquois and Mohawk term meaning "where it forks". The pass is subject to winter closure, due to high snowfall, normally from around the end of October until the end of May the following year, though these dates are subject to considerable variation. In heavy snow years, the road has closed in early October, and has remained closed as late as early July. In light snow years, the road may remain open until December and open as early as April. Tioga Pass is the most direct route from Bishop or Mammoth Lakes, California to Fresno, Merced, and Stockton. There are four highway passes to the north, between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, but none to the south for about 200 miles (300 km), until Sherman Pass in southern Tulare County.
This drive from Yosemite over to Lake Tahoe is work the extra 40 minutes. We were concerned about the drive pulling our 42' fifth wheel, but it was no issue. Its well spaced out, the terrain is up and down, but no grade that is too steep. Use your engine combustion or diesel brake on the way down and you will have no issues. You need a pass to drive across which they give you 2 hours to complete. We stopped several times at waterfalls, lookout points, and meadows. We made it across right at the 2 hours. This drive is cool for anyone who has been to Yosemite but never done it. Totally worth it. P.S. you can see half dome (and the hikers) from the overlook!!! Visit us here for more details on our blog https://www.facebook.com/escapervist/
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