Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Yosemite Valley

The Moon is Waning Crescent (25% of Full)


Advanced

Re: Which roads are the most scenic?

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 01:20PM
We will be driving from the east coast and through Yosemite. Which roads are the most scenic?
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 01:28PM
Quote
katie
We will be driving from the east coast and through Yosemite. Which roads are the most scenic?
State Hwy 120 over Tioga Pass is outstanding if it's open. Because of the heavy snow pack that will probably not occur until sometime in June this year.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 01:31PM
Mountain LionDefinately the 120 that connects from the beautiful 395 highway. Take 120 to the 41 (south), right into the Yosemite Valley...
I love Yosemite Valley, but the back country is almost more beautiful, to me.Mountain Lion
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 02:23PM
Quote
Red Lipstick
Mountain LionDefinately the 120 that connects from the beautiful 395 highway. Take 120 to the 41 (south), right into the Yosemite Valley...
I love Yosemite Valley, but the back country is almost more beautiful, to me.Mountain Lion

I couldnt agree more. 120 (Tioga Rd) is an awesome drive though.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 03:31PM
Thanks for all the suggestion. Seems like 120 is the way to go. Will the road be open in the middle of June?
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 04:10PM
Quote
katie
Will the road be open in the middle of June?

This year? Probably not.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 04:22PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
katie
Will the road be open in the middle of June?

This year? Probably not.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat confident that Caltrans will probably have Hwy 108 open over Sonora Pass barring any unforeseen late season snow storms.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 04:26PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
eeek
Quote
katie
Will the road be open in the middle of June?

This year? Probably not.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat confident that Caltrans will probably have Hwy 108 open over Sonora Pass barring any unforeseen late season snow storms.

They do seem to be working at it: http://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/1274236/Sonora-Pass-Debris-Removal.html
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 07:06PM
Quote
katie
Thanks for all the suggestion. Seems like 120 is the way to go. Will the road be open in the middle of June?
Katie, if the Tioga Road is still not open (and, as others have said, that looks like a distinct probability given the amount of snow that hit the Park this winter), you could always cross over the Sierra south of the Park, come in the South entrance, drive up to the Valley and exit out the west side of the Park via the Big Oak Flat Road (which, once you get beyond the end (or beginning, if you prefer) of the Tioga Road (at Crane Flat in the western section of the park), becomes 120). This will also provide for an easy stop off to see the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias (much smaller than the more famous Mariposa Grove in the southern section of the park but also quite beautiful) and give a number of very nice high altitude views of the Valley as you leave (the BOFR climbs about 2000 feet as it leaves the Valley).

The Tioga Road is the only way to enter on the east side of the Park and it's not inconceivable that they'll have the road cleared by mid-June but I wouldn't count on it. If you're curious, here are all the opening and closing dates of the road since 1933.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 07:44PM
Quote
DavidK42
Katie, if the Tioga Road is still not open (and, as others have said, that looks like a distinct probability given the amount of snow that hit the Park this winter), you could always cross over the Sierra south of the Park....


For all intents and purposes, there is no trans-Sierra highway/road south of the park.

You basically need to skirt the southern edge of the range by going down to the Bakerfield area. (You can come past Lake Isabella and hit I-5 north of Bakersfield, but it's faster to follow the main highways and pass through Mohave and Bakersfield proper.) The passes to the north of Yosemite are closer and will be open.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 07:56PM
Quote
szalkowski
(You can come past Lake Isabella and hit I-5 north of Bakersfield

You hit 99 before I-5 and it'd be a lot faster.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 08:16PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
szalkowski
(You can come past Lake Isabella and hit I-5 north of Bakersfield

You hit 99 before I-5 and it'd be a lot faster.


Whoops!
Thanks Rick.
SR99 obviously runs through Beautiful Downtown Bakersfield, not I-5.
(Note to self: put brain in gear before typing words. My only excuse is that I drove back to L.A. from Phoenix starting at 1 AM this morning, put in the greater part of the day on a consulting job, and am presently operating in automatic mode.)
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 10:42PM
Quote
szalkowski
Quote
DavidK42
Katie, if the Tioga Road is still not open (and, as others have said, that looks like a distinct probability given the amount of snow that hit the Park this winter), you could always cross over the Sierra south of the Park....

For all intents and purposes, there is no trans-Sierra highway/road south of the park.

You basically need to skirt the southern edge of the range by going down to the Bakerfield area. (You can come past Lake Isabella and hit I-5 north of Bakersfield, but it's faster to follow the main highways and pass through Mohave and Bakersfield proper.) The passes to the north of Yosemite are closer and will be open.

Actually State Highway 178 through Walker Pass is a trans-Sierra highway, and having driven both Hwy 178 and Hwy 58 (through Tehachapi) eastbound to Bakersfield numerous of times, it has been my experience that both routes take about the same amount of time to transverse during the day, but that Hwy 178 through Walker Pass, Lake Isabella and the Kern River Valley is far more scenic of a drive than traveling on Hwy 58 through Tehachapi.

If I'm driving at night, I'll take Hwy 58 instead since there's no scenic advantage driving Hwy 178 when it's dark, and there are a lot more curves on Hwy 178.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 06:55PM
driving from east?
on the way in or out go to the eastern entrance of Yosemite and drive south through the Owens Valley on rte 395 for the gorgeous views of the massive wall of the Sierras .
The Owens Valley is the "Deepest Valley" , well -named.
You could tie this in with a trip to /from Lone Pine to Death Valley/ Las Vegas.

While in Yosemite, make sure you take the Glacier Point road and enjoy the guardrail-less sweeping turn at Washburn Point.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 07:09PM
Note that if 120 is closed in mid-June, as it could be, this itinerary may take significantly longer. Probably 108 and/or 4 will be open, so see how long that is to get from the east side into Yosemite (note that 4 is one-lane for about 20 miles) - otherwise, it's 88 over Carson Pass.

I agree regarding the views along the eastern Sierra, by all means go up to the Bristlecone Pines in the Inyo Range and, along the way, stop for the stunning views of the Sierra's eastern face. But this year, mid-June, someone driving from the east coast across the continent who wants to see Yosemite may want to plan on the possibility that 120 won't be open. And Yosemite Valley shouldn't be missed if someone has only one chance to see Yosemite.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 08:10PM
Where are you starting? You didn't mention how far east your were thinking of looking for scenic roads. If you're anywhere near it, perhaps start off with the Blue Ridge Parkway? I agree that US 395 is pretty spectacular, but if Tioga Road isn't open it's going to make getting to Yosemite a bit difficult.

Do you have places along the way you're looking to visit, or are you looking more at a straight shot to Yosemite?
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 11:30AM
I will be driving from DC. Any other roads from there to Cali will be greatly appreciated too!
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 12:01PM
Quote
katie
I will be driving from DC. Any other roads from there to Cali will be greatly appreciated too!

It all depends on your schedule and how much time you can afford to spend. If you're looking to get to California in a few days, you'll probably want to get onto either I-80 or I-70 and do a straight shot. If you have more time, there's just so much you can see along the way. If you're pressed for time, you can work your way to I-70 and see the Gateway Arch in St Louis, stop for barbecue in Kansas City, and take a short side trip to Moab, Utah.



The difficulty you'll have is if Tioga Road is closed. It'll take a few hundred miles more to get around to the other entrances.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 08:39PM
Quote
katie
I will be driving from DC. Any other roads from there to Cali will be greatly appreciated too!


FYI, even more famous than Yosemite's Tioga Road is Glacier's Going-To-The-Sun Road:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going-to-the-Sun_Road
http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/goingtothesunroad.htm









2008 Plowing:


avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 08:47PM
Quote
szalkowski
FYI, even more famous than Yosemite's Tioga Road is Glacier's Going-To-The-Sun Road:

I think that would be a wee bit out of their way.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 09:10PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
szalkowski
FYI, even more famous than Yosemite's Tioga Road is Glacier's Going-To-The-Sun Road:

I think that would be a wee bit out of their way.


As I noted, informational only.
However, if they take I-80, after travelling across the scenic expanses of the "Third World Provinces" of the U.S. interior (Iowa, Nebraska, DickCheneyLand), they might opt to head to Canada.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2011 09:24PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 04:19AM
By the way, assuming that you will be travelling on the Interstate Highway System, here is a good counterpunctual book for the passenger to read aloud:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Highways



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2011 04:59AM by szalkowski.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 21, 2011 09:03PM
If you are indeed too early to get onto Tioga road, sometimes a "suggested" alternative Caltrans mentions is 108;

pretty nice, for sure, but my heart goes to #4 (just slightly north of 108); because that's my old backpacking playground ... it goes over three passes ,,, directly on your left (if you're going west) is the Carson Iceberg Wilderness ... directly on your right is the Mokelumne Wilderness ... right through the heart of "God's Country": pristene, wild, and beautiful Alpine County
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 10:34AM
I did a similar drive Katie. I'm from Ohio. If you want any other tips for awesome roads in other states I might have some.

I agree with people saying that 120 is unmissable if it's open.

There are so many astounding roads in CO, UT, and NV on the way.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2011 10:36AM by dqniel.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 11:28AM
dqniel. Wonderful! From Ohio, what roads do you recommend to get to Yosemite. If 120 is closed, what are other good options?
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 11:42AM
Quote
katie
If 120 is closed, what are other good options?

If it's open, you can cross on 108 (Sonora Pass) and then take 49 south to Mariposa.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 22, 2011 05:29PM
If 120 and 108 are still closed then look into 88 which is kept plowed for the dam tenders. 88 is a bit north of 120 though. Just south of Carson City in NV.
(Lookout!! Here it comes)



Old Dude
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 04:07PM
Noted. Thanks guys. I hope 120 will be open by then, if not these alternative seem to be just as good.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 09, 2011 08:59AM
I think 108 is open now, not sure of 88.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 09, 2011 10:56AM
Quote
camper68
I think 108 is open now, not sure of 88.

SR 108
[IN THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA AREA & SIERRA NEVADA]
IS CLOSED FROM 26.4 MI EAST OF STRAWBERRY TO 5.3 MI WEST OF THE
JCT OF US 395 /SONORA PASS/ (TUOLUMNE,MONO CO) - FOR THE WINTER - MOTORISTS
ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE

SR 88
[IN THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA & SIERRA NEVADA]
NO TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS ARE REPORTED FOR THIS AREA.

http://yosemitenews.info/highway-status/
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 08:54AM
I-70 through Utah is amazingly beautiful. Some of my favorite places that I went to on my way to and from Yosemite from Cincinnati are very dependent on which way you go though... north, "middle", or south route. I went southern on the way out through TX, NM, AZ and on the way back I went through the "middle" to NV, UT, CO. I'd like to do a northern route through SD and WY sometime. If you go through the "middle" then don't miss the Great Sand Dunes in CO. It's a bit out of the way no matter which route you take, but entirely worth it. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Estes, and a million other places in CO are beautiful. Utah has Arches National Park and Canyonlands in the east and then Bryce and finally Zion as you move southwest through the state. I think Zion is unmissable. It's absolutely breathtaking.

Before you get to the west I'm pretty ignorant as to what you should stop to see. Cincinnati would be a small detour and I think is an underrated place to visit. It's very hilly and green (most of the time) with lots of good local restaurants. There aren't any mountains or towering waterfalls but there are some pretty views of the Ohio River Valley. I've gone through St. Louis a bunch of times in my life but have never stopped to see anything there. Call me close-minded but most stuff in the Midwest and Great Plains just doesn't appeal to me sad smiley



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 09:05AM
I went to Yellowstone and the Tetons when I was a little kid, and haven't been back since. I can't wait to get back there someday. I remember the Tetons seeming much "purer" than most of the parks in CO, but it could just be since I was a little kid. If I had the time I'd go north as well Mtn Man. However, you're right that there is a lot to do with small detours off of I-70 if a more direct route is desired.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 04:09PM
Thanks for all the ideas Daniel. I will be short on time so I won't be able to stop as many places and detours as you. Seem like you had a great roadtrip. If you had to just choose two of those stops, which two would you do again?
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 24, 2011 11:33AM
Quote
katie
Thanks for all the ideas Daniel. I will be short on time so I won't be able to stop as many places and detours as you. Seem like you had a great roadtrip. If you had to just choose two of those stops, which two would you do again?

If you're short on time, I'd say drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway, make your way to St Louis to see the Gateway Arch, and take I-70 as far as you can go. A quick stop could be the Moab, Utah area and Arches National Park, which is only a few miles off of I-70. Arches has plenty of sites you can see a short walk from your car (or from a parking lot), such as Park Avenue, the Court of the Patriarchs, Balanced Rock, and The Windows. The real stars are Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch, which will take some time to visit.



Check conditions to see if you can take the Tioga Road (east) entrance to Yosemite. There are opinions that it might not open until July. Otherwise you'll have to find another way to get into Yosemite.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 24, 2011 04:55PM
Yes, I highly recommend stopping at the Arches National Park. Make sure you get one of those yearly National Park passes and check out as many as you can on your trip; it will also save you some money.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 24, 2011 03:24PM
OK - just a sample.

I noted that I thought the Blue Ridge Parkway would be well worth it. I've never done it, but if you don't stop at every vista point you might be able to do it in two days.

So, starting from DC......

I-66 west
Go south through Shenandoah National Park.
Keep on going south through Blue Ridge Parkway. Find a good place to get off halfway through and stay for the night.
The southern end connects with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which then goes north and connects with I-40.
Take I-40 west through Knoxville until you get to Nashville.
From Nashville take I-24 west until it meets with I-57 north, then take I-64 west until you get to St Louis. My map isn't that clear, but I understand you want to avoid E. St Louis, IL. if you've seen National Lampoon's Vacation, you'll know what I mean.
Once in St Louis get on I-70 west, which passes through Kansas City, Topeka, and Denver. Moab, Utah is just off of it and well worth a stop.

After that, there are so many different ways you can go to get to Yosemite. Have plenty of water, since Nevada in the summer can be brutal.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 05:05PM
Yes, I usually drive right through the mid-west and great plains. Every mile of it looks the same to me.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 23, 2011 08:55AM
If you have lots of time make your way up to the Tetons and Yellowstone. If not a lot of time take I- 70 through Colorado and Utah. Lots of side trips off of I-70 in the Rockies.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 24, 2011 12:20PM
If I had to pick two places I'd say Arches or Canyonlands and then Zion. Both are in Utah, but both are near the top of my list for sheer beauty



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/24/2011 12:21PM by dqniel.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 09:43AM
Thanks vpw, mtn man, and dqniel (and anyone else I have forgotten). OK, I am going to try to see if I can get more time to make this roadtrip more worthwhile. I have defintely noted these stops, especially the Arches and Zion.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 12:44PM
You should try to take more time, to see middle America. Since you are moving to SF, Yosemite is a short ride away and you can always go for quick weekend trips.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 03:08PM
be sure to take routes 12 and 24 between Arches and Bryce by going through Capitol Reef and Escante. Smile per mile.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 03:12PM
Quote
h_lankford
be sure to take routes 12 and 24 between Arches and Bryce by going through Capitol Reef and Escante. Smile per mile.

And be sure to stop at Kodachrome Basin State Park.


http://yosemitephotos.net/main.php/v/misc/sh-dscn1677.jpg.html
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 05:54PM
You fellas are very bad for me. My list keeps getting larger and larger. Now I wished I haven't found this forum :-P.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
April 30, 2011 11:26PM
Quote
katie
You fellas are very bad for me. My list keeps getting larger and larger. Now I wished I haven't found this forum :-P.

Yeah. We're bad boys (with some girls too).

You could make this a great big National Park Service tour, including spending significant time at Shenandoah NP and Great Smoky Mountain NP when you've barely started your trip. I'm only suggesting that you pass through them and enjoy the view from you car. If you have weeks it could get ridiculous how much you could do getting to Yosemite from DC. However - you mentioned in another thread that you only plan on spending a day in Yosemite, so I guess multi-day stays at other NPS units are probably not in the plans. There are really so many places you could visit - Mammoth Caves, Zion NP, Big Basin NP, etc. I said Moab and Arches NP because I believe it's only a short diversion and it's one of the most special places I've ever visited.

However - you seem like you really want to soak in the view from your car and make it to your intended destination in reasonable time. Much would depend on how far you're willing to drive per day. I've found on some road trips that it helps to have more than one driver. If you're looking for a straight shot, I think you could probably drive 10-12 hours a day and arrive at Yosemite in 4 days via boring Interstate highways. I would say that 6 days should be reasonable if you take enough breaks and make a few stops for food, fuel, lodging, and brief sightseeing.

I just got curious and mapped out a plan for mostly I-70 from Gatlinburg, TN to Yosemite. I blocked out using Tioga Road - assuming that it will be closed.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Gatlinburg,+TN&daddr=Columbia,+MO+to:Limon,+CO+to:Moab,+UT+to:Las+Vegas,+NV+to:35.19642,-116.13644+to:Yosemite+National+Park,+CA&hl=en&geocode=FdP0IAIdbLwF-ymJpQjL6lNZiDGoebd-rtexSg%3BFRlbUgIdCBh_-inJgoG786vchzEgb726LWkRoA%3BFYQeVwIdcsjR-SkzZLyEhFFthzET96B17Atjww%3BFQSVTAId8WZ4-SmNLbia5eFHhzEtxNXxerEyCw%3BFdYQJwIdMJoi-SnRffWkgre-gDGjebPV5tXMOg%3BFQQOGQIdCOYT-SnL_ScrqbzFgDHrxY2NV_w4aQ%3BFeXqPwId52rf-CmvY_I4_vGWgDFu4slULj8hGQ&mra=ls&via=5&sll=35.029996,-95.097656&sspn=38.803345,71.367188&ie=UTF8&ll=37.439974,-101.689453&spn=37.708718,71.367188&z=4
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 01, 2011 01:21AM
If you're going back, a good choice might be Highway 4. This is one of those rare highways where you really get to see the landscape. What's interesting is how close Highway 4 comes to Highway 120 when it's near Copperopolis. However, that's about as close to Yosemite as it ever gets. It then veers to the northeast and goes practically all the way to the Carson Valley in Nevada. Quite a fascinating journey. You could easily make a day of it (or two) driving this pretty road. The part that goes from Lake Alpine to the base of the eastern Sierra is almost entirely one lane so it's impossible to drive fast and you really get to see the mountains. However, I wouldn't choose it over the Tioga Road if I was driving from the east for the first time. Highway 4 is beautiful, but not as spectacular as Highway 120 in my opinion.
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 01, 2011 10:13AM
Quote
rightstar76
If you're going back, a good choice might be Highway 4. This is one of those rare highways where you really get to see the landscape. What's interesting is how close Highway 4 comes to Highway 120 when it's near Copperopolis. However, that's about as close to Yosemite as it ever gets. It then veers to the northeast and goes practically all the way to the Carson Valley in Nevada. Quite a fascinating journey. You could easily make a day of it (or two) driving this pretty road. The part that goes from Lake Alpine to the base of the eastern Sierra is almost entirely one lane so it's impossible to drive fast and you really get to see the mountains. However, I wouldn't choose it over the Tioga Road if I was driving from the east for the first time. Highway 4 is beautiful, but not as spectacular as Highway 120 in my opinion.

I'd be surprised if Tioga Road was open in her timeframe (middle of June).
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 06, 2011 01:14AM
Yes, especially with the amount of snowfall this year... the opening will probably be delayed for a few more weeks.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 06, 2011 02:12PM
I have my fingers crossed. The forums say they are plowing the road already? Maybe it will clear this year? When was it clear last year?
avatar Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 06, 2011 04:09PM
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 08, 2011 11:14PM
There was more rain/snow this week... Katie, you probably won't be able to drive on it.
Re: Which roads are the most scenic?
May 09, 2011 12:19AM
Next week too!
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login