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Half Dome from the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer

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Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 20, 2008 07:54AM
Tioga Pass has always been closed when we go to Yosemite. This time it will actually be open! We will be pulling a 24' camper and our directions have up crossing the pass when we come in. Will there be any problem pulling the trailer over the pass, or would another route be advisable? Thanks is advance.
Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 20, 2008 08:48AM
If you have experience with mountain driving you shouldn't have any problems. I have towed my 34' fifth wheel over Tioga Pass from west to east and it went fine. Take it easy and use the fairly plentiful turn outs. Going east toward Lee Vining from the summit is steeper so if you are going that way watch your speed as you start down.

avatar Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 20, 2008 03:52PM
Lots of people tow huge trailers over the pass. You should be fine. But please use the turnouts and let the faster vehicles pass.

avatar Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 20, 2008 05:10PM
I would carry a complete set of hoses that carry coolant (top and bottom radiator hoses and two hoses that supply the heater) plus enough 50/50 coolant to recharge the system. That way you will never blow a hose or loose coolant.

Old Dude
avatar Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 21, 2008 04:15PM
Wait. I'm not sure that these recommendations given here are enough. Having pulled two different trailers, one motor home, and two tent trailers over the pass in the more than thirtyfive years of using this pass, I can say that pulling a trailer up is not difficult, but it can be very dangerous.

As long as you pick a very comfortable low gear, like second or even first if your gearing and weight that you are pulling calls for it, and are experienced, you're going to be fine...probably. This is a very healthy climb for some vehicles, and pulling a trailer packed with all your stuff, including water, etc., can be a challenge to many people and their trucks if they're not really up for the job. Most are, but some are not. There are many people out there pulling trucks for years on flat ground with small six cylinder engines that have never seen a mountain like Tioga Pass from the east side before. So, here are some tips that you probably already know. Forgive me if you don't need this information, but people do have problems on that road.

Find a gear that allows you to keep your RPMS around 3K to 4K without lugging or winding your engine. You will find a comfort zone, but you will be going slowly, that is, unless you have a huge engine with a lot of towing power. Watch your temperature gauge. If it heats up, pull over and wait fifteen minutes. Anything less isn't going to help much. Don't be worried about how slow you're going. In ten minutes you'll be at the top and it'll be over with.

On the way down the hill, assuming you may return that way, DO NOT use your brakes much at all. Rely almost entirely on the tranny to slow you down. Find a low gear again, watch the tachometer, and seek a comfortable speed, maybe second or third, probably second, and go slow, only using your brakes now and then to keep the RPMs from winding up too far.

Don't worry about people behind you. Don't brake on turns. Only brake on the straights, and in advance of turns. I assume you have electric brakes on the trailer. You will find out very quickly if you have them adjusted right, as they should slow your truck down, not the other way around. If only one or two of the trailer brakes is working, causing it to lock up, then adjust the brakes from the dash brake control so that your truck picks up a little of the weight while braking, but not a lot. You really want the trailer to do all the braking if you can on a hill like that.

Don't be fooled by the long straight stretch toward the bottom of the grade where it looks like the grade is easing up. You still have a ways to go. People can pass you if they want. Don't pull over into any of the downhill turnouts unless you want to or have to, as the pull outs are rough. They have lots of gravel and will kick up onto your trailer, unless you enter them very slowly.

Other than that, it's a piece of cake.

Post Edited (07-21-08 16:25)

avatar Re: Tioga Pass with a Trailer
July 21, 2008 04:59PM
Clean brake fluid helps. DOT 4 works better than DOT 3, and you can use DOT 5.1 if you're really paranoid. Make sure it's fresh. Fresh brake fluid will resist boiling over. If it boils over, your pedal will go to the floor (brake fluid fade) with almost no braking effectiveness as the vapor in the brake system compresses. Moisture in the brake system is the primary cause of lower brake fluid boiling temps. Higher spec brake fluid resists boiling when "wet" and may have a higher dry boiling temp.

Hope that you don't need it, but be prepared for hot brakes if you do.

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