Yosemite: Tioga Pass

Early Friday morning I made my way from Glass Creek Campground towards Yosemite National Park via 120 W (Tioga Pass). I woke up early to drive the hour and a half through Tioga Pass to meet my sister at Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley to try and get a campsite.

Yosemite National Park entrance fee is $30 for 7 days, or what I recommend is purchasing the annual national park pass for $80 which lasts an entire 12 months. What a steal! If you go to 3 different National Parks in a year, you pay for the pass. Although not all National Parks have the same entrance fee, most of them average $20-$30.

After arriving to Camp 4 a little before 8am (my sister got there at 5:30am), and not receiving one of the 40 camping spots, we decided to begin exploring Yosemite National Park. Note: Camp 4 is THE MOST POPULAR campsite, as it’s the only non-reservation in Yosemite Valley; not to mention it’s where all the rock climbers and boulderers like to camp. Other non-reservation camps include: Wawona campground (Wawona), Bridalveil campground (Glacier Point), Crane Flat, Tamarack Flat, Yosemite Creek, White Wolf, Porcupine Flat, and Tuolumne Meadows (all on Tioga Pass Rd).

We decided to drive Tioga Pass for our first day since it was suppose to be the warmest day of the weekend. We decided to hike Mary Lake first, which was a great warm up hike, taking us only an hour and a half for the 2.5 mile round trip hike. The hike was along a steep paved road. It was a pretty hike as there was snow covering the ground and little streams of melted snow running off.

After hiking to Mary Lake we stopped at Olmsted Point for lunch and to enjoy the beautiful view of half dome and the valley. My sister and I sat on some boulders as we watched the beauty before us. There also was a boulderer down below trying to dominate the rock formations before him, which was fun to watch.

After lunch we drove up to Tenaya Lake and played some cards by the lake as we let our feet soak in the ice cold, refreshing water. Tenaya Lake was a beautiful site. We watched people kayak, paddle board and just picnic along the lake. After relaxing by the lake we headed to the Visitor Center to inquire about top hikes to see at sunset. The worker there said Lembert Dome would have a great sunset view. We didn’t make it back for the sunset there, however I’d like to see it next time.

Instead we decided to figure out where we were going to be sleeping that night! The camp sites along Tioga Pass were mostly closed due to snow still being on the ground, so we decided to look for a campsite outside the park. There were three campsites outside the park at these lakes: Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake, and Saddlebag Lake. However due to the elevation and snow, these campsites were closed as well. Saddlebag Lake had an incredible view and we saw people cross-country skiing along the mountainside.

In the end we decided to make our way back to Glass Creek Campground and we watched the sunset at Mono Lake again (first time for my sister). It was nice to see a different sunset at Mono Lake, since there were more clouds in the sky this time, making it a completely different spectacle.


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