Tuolomne Meadows is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. The Tioga Pass Road is the highest elevation in the park. This was my favorite spot in the park based on my brief visit here.
There are several stops along the road, including Olmstead Point and Tenaya Lake and others which I'l describe in the general tips section, all of which make for a great drive. The definite highlight of the Tioga Road journey are the sprawling Tuolomne Meadows whose colorful fields stretch in all directions with Pothole Dome rising impressively in the backdrop.
Driving along Tioga Road, you can see on your right the meadows, there are several places to stop the car and do photos, also some hiking itineraries, some more extended than others.
As we had luggage on the car, we were afraid of leaving the car alone for long time, also we did not have much time. Next time we will spend longer here.
Stretching north from and along the highway, these meadows offer a grand park land surrounded by peaks and forests. You must stay on the trails through the meadows. There is a visitor center and many other amenities available at the eastern end of the Meadows.
My friends and I went rafting through Zephr on the Tuolumne river and it was easily one of the coolest and most exhilarating thing I've ever done in my life. if you are looking for a lot of excitement and a lot of relaxation as well, you definitely have to do this. Its basically an 18 mile trip down a class 4 river. It offers a lot of rapids of various difficulties and various drops for the excitement. And in between rapids you can relax and enjoy the amazing scenery while getting all the information from the excellent guides that Zephr provides.
We decided to stop here and see the giant sequoias of this area, as we would not have time to see the ones in Mariposa Grove and also we missed Sequoia National park. We were told it was a short one, only one mile (well I am not sure it was only a mile lol) to go down and later ascend.
There were lots of excursions from kids camps, all playing to pass inside the trees.
take water with you
Millions of years ago this alpine meadow was covered by a sheet of ice 2000 feet thick. That is the same depth of some of the deepest icefields on earth in places such as Greenland. To this day the Tuolumne Meadow is covered by ice and snow six months of the year. In the summer when the snow has melted (around the end of June beginning of July) this meadow is covered with wildflowers--a sight that I do intend to see one day. But for now, I will take solace in the muted russet colored views of autumn. Very beautiful in its own right.
Lembert Dome is a neat rock formation and stands out up in the Tuolumne Meadow. But it turns into something extra special when the photographer (me) risks life and lim to climb down to the banks of a pool of water to get that great reflection shot. I'll do anything to please my audience.
The Tuolumne Meadows are a large high altitude alpine meadow located along the Tioga Road north of Yosemite Valley. There is a store and ranger station there, which makes it a good place to use as a base for hikes into the park's backcountry.
Tuolumne Meadows. I've been here a few times but still can't pronounce this correctly ;-)Standing at 8600 feet elevation this subalpine meadow is an eye treat. The wide grassy fields are surrounded by snow-capped peaks and in spring and midsummer the meadow fills with wildflowers. Some streams are running through the meadows and fishing is popular. Many hikes in the high country begin here. There is a general store that stocks last-minute hiking supplies, a few tent-cabins (all full in summer), a restaurant with pricey but good food and a picnic area.
Tuolumne Meadows lie some 8,500ft above sea level and offer quite a contrast to the crowded steep-sided bowl of Yosemite Valley. Beautiful sub-alpine meadows and pine forests straddle vast plateaus between massive granite peaks and especially in summer you’ll notice the cooler temperatures up there and the lighter lungfuls of air. The 2hr drive on the Tioga Road from Yosemite Valley is well-worth the effort for some stunning scenery on the way and at the meadows themselves. Once at Tuolumne there’s plenty of day hikes to embark on of varying degrees of difficulty – just ask at one of the ranger stations for details.
There are so many things to see here it's impossible to list them all. I particularly love the giant sequoias of Tuolumne Grove. Giant sequoias are the oldest living things on earth, and also the largest. I've never felt so small and insignificant as when I'm standing next to these giants.
Unfortunately humans haven't always treated them with reverence. The square opening of this tree was carved as a novelty -- cars and horse carriages used to drive through it!
A bigger and better known giant sequoia preserve is the Mariposa Grove about 30 miles further south. But if you don't have the time then this will suffice. The hike is moderate, but may seem longer than the 1 mile indicated.
Yosemite has 3 sequoia groves. From large to small, they are Mariposa Grove, Merced Grove, and Tuolumne Grove. Although the smallest, Tuolumne Grove (cluster of about 25 sequoias) is the most accessible from the Valley. It's located at Crane Flat near the Tioga Road and Big Oak Flat Road intersection. Even in the summer it doesn't get too crowded. The easy 2-mile circular trail is perfect for a leisure walk among the big trunks. The photo shows the Tunnel Tree in Tuolumne Grove, but you can no longer drive your car through.
Tuolumne Meadows were, for some reason to my surprise, really meadows. Quite pretty, and at quite a high altitude. Great place to start a hike above the timber line, especially if you want to see some small glaciers.
After having visited the valley, we followed Tioga Road to the north easterly upper part of Yosemite Park. Here, the atmosphere is quite different from the valley. At 8500 ft you seem to be at level with the surrounding tops of the mountains and the temperature has dropped. All activities seem to be concentrated around Tuolumne Meadows, that has its own visitors centre. I was particularly impressed by the naked mountain tops and the crisp lakes that were scattered over the plateau.
The Tunnel Tree in Tuolomne Grove. The Yosemite Conservacy urges us to 'enjoy the peace and quiet of this smaller, but no less remarkable, stand of big trees' [a comparison with Mariposa Grove]. The tunnel was created back in 1878.