Bucket List Roads: Tioga Pass Road (CA-120) [with Video]

Aug 16, 2019 View Comments by

Tioga Pass Road (CA-120)

This California state highway navigates over the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains and, in the process, bisects Yosemite National Park from west to east. The surrounding landscape features pristine glacial lakes, alpine meadows, glacially carved valleys, granite mountain peaks, spectacular waterfalls, and an abundance of native fauna and flora. There are limited services along the route, so gas up and take some snacks before heading out.

Climate/Road Closures: Due to elevations of up to 9,000 ft, the road accumulates substantial snow-pack in the colder months. In mountain riding environments, the air is colder and thinner as you ascend, so dress accordingly. The road also can be closed for reasons other than weather so check National Park Service website before going.

Scenery: Breathtaking glacier-carved scenery throughout Yosemite National Park.
Curves: Frequent curves and elevation changes demand a prudent rate of speed.
Traffic: Riding progress may be slowed in some areas during the peak summer tourist months. The best times to go are late spring and early fall.
Distance: Approximately 96 miles
Time Required: One day
Technical Difficulty: This route is appropriate for seasoned motorcyclists with previous mountain riding experience.

Points of Interest:

  1. Big Oak Flat Road: Depart Route 120 at this location if you’re heading for Yosemite Valley.
  2. Siesta Lake: Blink and you may miss it, but a serene location for taking a break.
  3. Olmsted Point: This must-see location has an iconic vista of the northern side of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and Tenaya Lake. It was named after the famous landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
  4. Tenaya Lake: This arrestingly beautiful lake is a feast for the eyes. It’s a popular destination for kayakers and other watersport enthusiasts.
  5. Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center: Stop here for restrooms, gas, and information about Tuolumne Meadows.
  6. Tioga Peak: Ride through a gorge around the base of 11,526-foot Tioga Peak.





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