Over two-thirds of Yosemite National park lies north of Yosemite Valley, and much of this region is wilderness. The area is made accessible primarily by Tioga Road, the only trans-Sierra crossing between Walker Pass in Kern County and Sonora Pass to the north.
Spectacular high country terrain, brilliant blue lakes and astounding granite peaks are reached via this route that leads through Tuolumne Meadows, the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. The road crests the range at 9,945-foot Tioga Pass
Tuolumne Meadows is a seasonal phenomenon. It is closed by snow to visitors the majority of the year, but when summer arrives, hikers flock here to navigate trials and rock climb. Visitors by car will be awed at the Tuolumne River winding its way through the meadows, and by the array of rock domes ringing the area. This less-developed part of Yosemite National Park offers smooth-bottomed canyons and delicate lakes, along with jagged peaks and rocky outcroppings. The area is loaded with seasonal recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages, including swimming, fishing, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and nature walks.
This picturesque region sits 8,600 feet up in the transparent sky of Yosemite’s high country. Contained in a basin about 2.5 miles long, the meadow system may be the largest in the Sierra Nevada at the subalpine level. Tuolumne Meadows is only 55 miles by road from Yosemite Valley, but it’s a world apart. For regional information, call 209-372-0263.
Every spring, both visitors and locals look forward to the opening of the Tioga Road, a high-elevation pass that crosses Yosemite National Park. Tioga Road is typically closed for winter from November until mid May or June, but when summer arrives, there are plenty of options for fun, with multiple campgrounds, trailheads, lakes, streams and scenic views to choose from!
The territory stretching out to the north is a veritable hiker’s wonderland, with numerous trails that lead into landscape unequalled anywhere else in the world. Hikes range from easy to very strenuous and become more difficult with the increased elevation.
Gas, food and lodging are available when Tioga Pass is open to visitors, and seasonal lodges are open for those who wish to extend their stay. With such a limited season, reservations go quickly and guests are encouraged to call well in advance.
The Hetch Hetchy area within Yosemite includes the portion of the park that is found on its western boundary along the Big Oak Flat Road north of Crane Flat, and along the Evergreen and Hetch Hetchy Roads. The region is best known for its two groves of giant sequoias, the Merced and the Tuolumne Groves, and for the Hetch Hetchy reservoir on the Tuolumne River.
National Park Service headquarters are located at the Big Oak Flat Entrance, where there is a Ranger station, a NPRS reservation office, a small visitors center and book sales area, a wilderness permit and reservation office. In the fall, rangers conduct a variety of walks, programs and campfires centered in the Crane Flat Campground and the Tuolumne Grove area.