Tioga Pass, a.k.a. California State Road 120 is Yosemite’s own “road less traveled.” The pass (as locals call it) crosses Yosemite from west to east, leading from the populous west edge of the park out toward Mono Lake in the east.
To get to Tioga Pass from Yosemite Valley, take Northside Road to Big Oak Flat Road to the Highway 120 junction, and turn east. Its elevation and location lead to annual winter closures, so don’t expect to be able to get across the greater park from November through May.
Along the pass, you’ll find a number of developed campgrounds, plus a few natural wonders many visitors to Yosemite National Park never see. Don’t forget to stop at Tuolumne Meadows on your way to the pass.
In the spring, walk out to view the wildflowers at White Wolf, which sits about 10 miles east of the junction—turn north on the dirt road to get to the parking lot.
Another 10 miles along, bring out your camera to take in the vista at Olmstead Point. Or stroll on the sandy beach at Tenaya Lake, two miles east of Olmstead while staring up towards Clouds Rest.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition