If you head east on Hwy 120 (Tioga Road) from Crane Flat, you'll eventually (and soon) reach beautiful and tiny Siesta Lake; since it's right by the roadside, viewing requires just about no effort at all. More a pond than a lake, you can see good reflections of the surroundings when you're here in early morning. Siesta Lake is gradually silting up; eventually, it will become a meadow, and afterwards a part of the forest.
The Tioga Pass is the Eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, connecting the park to Route 395, the major north/south road in Eastern California. Route 120 is the road which crosses the Tioga Pass. You get onto it from Route 395 at Lee Vining near Mono Lake. The Tioga Pass road is cut into the steep hillsides of the pass. A single guardrail separates you from a 2000 foot fall as you drive down the hill. The Tioga Pass is closed by heavy snowfalls for most of the year (October-May) due to its high altitude (9000 feet).
In order to arrive in Yosemite from the East, you must drive through Tioga Pass. With it's magnificent views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, it is very hard to keep your eyes on the road! But watch closely, you may even see a mountain goat clinging prevariously above your car.
The Tioga Pass.
The incredible place I remembered since I last saw it five years ago.
The best end for our visit to the Yosemite National Park.
This place is enchanted, so silent, so quiet.
The thin air here (about 9000 feet above sea level) requests you not to run or move fast or you'll remain without breath.
We stayed for a while here enjoying what is becoming more and more rare to find in this world: the silence.
Miles away from the Yosemite Valley, maybe too many, but still inside the Yosemite National Park, towards the Tioga Pass, the landscape changes radically.
From a "normal" wooden landscape, you pass to a typical alpine landscape, that is absolutely, incredibly, wonderful.
We reached this place late in the afternoon, and colours were changing.
Let me open this page with this picture I made at the top of the Tioga Pass, the eastern gateway to the Yosemite National Park.
It has been the first time I tried to make a picture to a space object.
It succeded, I think, only because the sky was still blue and so focusing was easier.
An occasional success, at the end, but I'm so happy of it!
As you enter through the Tioga point (also called Tioga Road or Highway 120 East) from Mono county, you will drive through some beautiful lakes till you get to Tuolumne Meadows.
There are certain areas to stop and do photos and short or long walks.
This road is not open all year, only in summer time.
Tenaya Lake is located along the Tioga Road (Hwy 120) about seven miles west of Tuolumne Meadows. The lake is beautiful, clear blue and surrounded by the sheer slopes. Here you'll find a few beaches, ample parking and a picnic area. Many hikes in to the high country start from here. Crowded during the day, the lake becomes very peaceful in the late afternoon. It's also open to swimming for those who don't mind the chilly water.
The lake itself it beautiful--near Olmstead Point going from 8500' toward 10,000' at Tioga Pass. At the point you can see the back side of Half Dome and Clouds Rest and to the north of the lake, Mt. Conness.
The eastern shore of the lake is sandy...the water is COLD, though--but it's a nice place to lay on the shore--it's quiet (sometimes a bit buggy in the spring during the thaw) and relaxing.
Of course there is more to Yosemite than just the area around the valley.
Around Tioga Pass, you will finds lots of places like the one in the picture. Mountains, forest, lakes and meadows. Very relaxing.
Olmsted is a scenic turnout on the Tioga Road. There are panels that explain the geological phenomenon that takes place there and identify the different peaks that are visible. The views from this point are very beautiful but it's unique granite formations make this place photogenic in its own right.
This road crosses Yosemite from west to east and is a truly scenic drive. Along the way you will enjoy views of granite peaks, beautiful lakes, wildflower-covered meadows, and green forests with Giant Sequoia groves. You'll probably want to stop for pictures at many points on the road.