Friday, September 5, 2014

Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows, Olmsted Point


The Mono Lake area is at the 6500 elevation level.  Tioga Pass is just under 10,000 feet in elevation.  The climb from Mono Lake to the pass is only 14 miles in length, and seven of those miles climb over 3,000 feet.  Even in the HHR we were in second gear most of the time.  There are two lakes between Mono and the summit, Ellery Lake and Tioga Lake.  That is Ellery Lake above, which is two pictures put together to create the panoramic view.  Note:  The white to the right of the mountain peak is clouds, not snow on a mountain.


Above is Tioga Lake, which is just a little higher in elevation than Ellery Lake. Both are glacial lakes, and both feed Lee Vining Creek.  Lee Vining Creek is later split into two water streams, one take water all the way to Los Angeles, while the other flows naturally into Mono Lake.  At one time, 90% of the water flowing through Lee Vining Creek never made it to Mono Lake….it did make it to Los Angeles though.  Enough water has been diverted to L.A. over the years that the entire city would be covered in 11 feet of water if it “all came at once”.  Mono Lake had dropped by 45 feet, and is now twice as salty as the Pacific Ocean.  


At the pass, you enter Yosemite…soon after you start seeing Tuolumne Meadows on the south side of the road.

2b   2c

As you go further, the Meadow is on the north side of the road, and is much larger.  I have seen the meadows many times, but never so late in the year….I am use to the lush green color, but after a long hot summer, and fall in he air, the meadows are now a tannish color with a little hint of green here and there.  In early spring the meadows can almost look like a lake, but few see it flooded like that since Tioga Pass and Tioga Road are closed until mid to late May most years due to snow.


There are six domes which essentially surround Tuolumne Meadows.  This is Marcia’s favorite one, Medlicott Dome.  Why is this one her favorite?


Because she is obsessed with the trees growing right out of the granite!  She kept singing "Upon this rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."


With all this rock, yep, you are going to find rock climbers.  There are five in the picture above.

3d     3e

In the picture on the left you can see the first two near the top, in the picture to the right you can see the other three found near the patch of “green” in the bottom left of the first picture.  We stopped and watch them for about 20 minutes…the top two were near the top when we left.  About an hour later we saw Fire Rescue headed up the pass while we were headed home…Marcia wondered if one of them might have fallen.


Next we came to Tenaya Lake.  This is the view looking back to the east. 


Here is another view of Tenaya Lake from the other end of the lake.


At Olmsted Point, you can look to the east and see Tenaya Lake among the massive granite domes and mountains....what a view that is.


From Olmsted Point you get a good view of Half Dome, a different view than when you are in the valley.

That’s a little better view of it.  I know I mentioned before that my youngest son Ryan climbed to the top of Half Dome with his Uncle from his mother’s side of the family.  


I was actually able to zoom in, and then with Photoshop, zoom in some more and adjust colors and lightening to actually make out a line of climbers headed up the dome along the cables and wooden slats which form a kind of ladder for the last 400 feet to the top.  And with that, it topped off our day, a wonderful drive in Yosemite’s high country. 


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous trip!! We've been to Yosemite but never along this route. The rocks and lakes are beautiful. Thanks for so many wonderful photos. I'm with Marcia! I love the tree going out the solid rock.

    1. You do need to get back to Yosemite some day and do the high country. There is a hike close to Olmsted Point which will take you to the top of Yosemite Falls, and then you can hike right down to the valley. I am "sure" John would just love the "drill sergeant" to order that hike. :)

  2. Gorgeous pictures. Looks like you had a perfect day. Cracks me up seeing the little 'ants' climbing up half dome.

    1. Yes, from this distance they do look like ants. Not sure, but this was probably the lead group for the day because we took the shot around 11 am. It is a big hike before you hit the has to wonder how they have the energy to climb up that thing with no place to stop once you start the stairway.

  3. What a beautiful drive...we have never been to Yosemite. It's going on the list...I love the granite rocks, but the lakes are simply gorgeous! Thanks Dave and Marcia!

    1. Not much of an opportunity to "off road" inside Yosemite, but sure a bunch of opportunities on the east side of the park, that's for sure. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Joe....hope the doctors and the almighty give Joe many many many years more.


We love to hear comments from our readers. All comments are moderated by Dave before added to the website. Spam, advertisers and rude comments are deleted, and due to high spam attempts, Anonymous Users cannot post, sorry....register for a Google ID, it is free and it is easy. Go to: Get Google ID