As Tioga Pass reopened for summer, here are new experiences that can now be enjoyed along the route in the High Sierra showcasing a unique mix of history and stunning vistas on your Yosemite trip.

High Sierra Road Trip Loop

Open seasonally, the Tuolumne County mountain passes are perfect for selfie experts and travel enthusiasts searching for the best of the best in insta-worthy scenery. Every turn is picture perfect and now is the opportune moment to explore the breath-taking experiences that the High Sierra has to offer.

With unique mountain formations and beautiful rivers that stream alongside Sonora Pass (Highway 108) this less explored route passes through Tuolumne Meadows (where you can hike, bike and horseride into the sunset) and is surrounded by mountain peaks and domes to explore before continuing onwards to Tioga Pass (Highway 120). You can now explore both scenic mountain passes with an epic road trip loop with the re-opening of the Tioga Pass.

Tuolumne County, Yosemite, United States

Tuolumne County, Yosemite. Photo: Visit Tuolumne

Reach new heights in Sonora

Pass through the historic town of Sonora and climb to 3,650 feet in the local village of Twain Harte; a true ‘live like a local’ experience, with an abundance of live local music festivals taking place across the summer. Continue the trek up to 6,310 feet for great views at Donnell Vista where the all-encompassing scenery covers the outlandish rock formations known as the Dardanelles and provides crystal-clear views of Donnell Lake.

Kennedy Meadows, also along the route is perfect for exploring by horseback and riding along the South Fork of the Stanislaus River into the open meadow. You can also spend overnight here at the Kennedy Meadows Resort in a rustic cabin where local ranch-style meals are served. Continuing along Sonora Pass, this will bring you to the top of the mountain peak (at 9,623 feet) to enjoy the almost painted like canvas views of mountains, greenery, rivers, and lakes of Tuolumne.

yosemite lake

Photo: Mitali M

Explore the road less travelled along the Tioga Pass

Grab a bite to eat at local favourite, Main Street Deli, in Bridgeport before embarking on the 40-mile road trip along Highway 120. Winding along and up to the highest pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range (at 9,943 feet), stop at Mount Dana to take in more magnificent views before continuing through Yosemite Park to explore the secluded, Tuolumne Meadows.

Here you are able to not only explore the expansive meadow but also the ancient giants of Tuolumne Groves’ Giant Sequoias; the third longest living tree specimen, dating back thousands of years. The historic town of Groveland lies beyond and offer the perfect mix of accommodation including the luxury Rush Creek Lodge, the historic Groveland Hotel and quaint bed and breakfasts, including the Berkshire Inn.

Whitewater rafting excursions on the Tuolumne River can also be enjoyed from here. The last leg of Highway 120 lands visitors in the grassy foothills and small town of Chinese Camp, where historical landmarks including the Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, built in 1849 and making is the oldest church in the country.

Enjoy your Yosemite trip!

Also Read: 

The beauty of Yosemite: A road trip on Tioga Pass

10 Unique Experiences in America You Can’t Miss: And They’re Free!