Tioga Pass to Eastern Sierra

In my last post, I talked about a last-minute decision to leave Kings Canyon National Park and head to the Eastern Sierra to see what remained of the autumn colors. Even though though it was 42 miles / 68 km as the crow flies between my the Cedar Grove Lodge in Kings Canyon and my hotel in Bishop, California, the shortest route available to me over the Sierra Nevada mountains was 310 miles / 500 km, taking me through Yosemite National Park’s high country and over Tioga Pass.

Yosemite National Park

I entered Yosemite from the south through the Wawona entrance station, and that led to the famous tunnel view of Yosemite Valley. I stopped in the valley to pick up a sandwich at the Village Store and did my obligatory stop at the Ansel Adams Gallery before heading out of the valley on CA Highway 120.

I had driven over Tioga Pass eons ago and forgot how beautiful it was in its own right, with granite domes and rock outcroppings everywhere. Tenaya Lake was simply gorgeous.

Tioga Pass

At 9,943 feet / 3.030 meters elevation, Tioga Pass is one of the few routes over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The drive down to Lee Vining, California will test your brakes, as it’s a 8% grade for much of the way down.

Eastern Sierra

I spent the night in Bishop, California and headed up to Lake Sabrina to check out some of the fall colors. At higher elevations, the colors were past their peak, but at lower elevations, there were still plenty of trees in full color.

Mount Whitney & the Alabama Hills

I was running short on time, but I couldn’t pass through Lone Pine, California without taking a quick detour up Whitney Portal Road to the Alabama Hills and a glimpse of the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states: Mount Whitney.

Mount Whitney (right-most of the three peaks near the center of the frame)


This was a short run through the Eastern Sierra, and I really didn’t do the area justice. Still, I got my dose of autumn (and Portillo’s) before heading back to my home in San Diego.

3 thoughts on “Tioga Pass to Eastern Sierra

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