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Tioga Road is a seasonal road in Yosemite National Park that opens in the summer months.

Tioga Road in summer leads to Tioga Pass, the highest pass across the Sierra Nevada, cresting at 9944 feet/ 3031 m. Keep reading for everything you need to know about planning your summer trip to Yosemite National Park.


  • Is the road open? Check the Yosemite National Park homepage.
  • A brief history of Tioga Road: From foot trail to a High Sierra highway
  • What to expect along the roadway: amenitities and word about the weather.
  • Hiking from Tioga Road: Trails recommendations.

Is Tioga Road open? Is Tioga Pass open?

It varies year to year when Tioga Road/Tioga Pass will open and close. Here is a chart from Yosemite National Park with the historic Tioga opening and closing dates. The park will announce any changes in Tioga Road status/Tioga Pass status on their website as well as on their social media platforms. If you’re not sure if Tioga Road is open, it’s always a good idea to double check.

Want the play by play of what it takes to open the road? Tioga Road updates are posted regularly to the Yosemite National Park webpage.

When Tioga Road is open in the summer months, the 46 miles of highway become a gateway to the High Sierra. Below are tips and tricks for different types of adventures along Tioga Road in summer.

For more information on Tioga Road in winter, check out FAQ: Tioga Road in Winter.

Views from trails off of Tioga Road in summer: an alpine lake with peaks in the background.

Views from Dog Lake in the High Sierra.

A brief history of Tioga Road

If you ask any of the seven associated Tribes of Yosemite, they will assure you that the Sierra Nevada have been traversed since time immemorial by their ancestors. Historic trade routes allowed for the exchange of goods such as acorns, obsidian, and pine nuts.

Some of the pathways have become hiking trails such as the John Muir Trail which is also known as Nüümü Poyo. The Tioga Road is another example of an indigenous pathway that was built up over time.

The first iteration of a roadway in the area was the Great Sierra Wagon Road built in 1882-1883 with the hope of reaching a prophesized silver lode along the eastern crest of the Sierra. This incredible 56.25 of road were laid quickly, in 130 days, and efficiently by expert laborers, most of whom were Chinese immigrants. More about Chinese contributions to Yosemite National Park can be learned about the Chinese Laundry Exhibit in Wawona.

The road was then bought by Stephan Mather for $15,000. Prior to becoming the first director of the National Park Service, Mather donated the road i to Yosemite in 1915. The commemorative rock that was exchanged at the event is now held in the Yosemite Museum Collection. Improvements have been made over the years

Today visitors on Tioga Road in summer can expect a paved pathway that winds along mountain ridges, slowly gaining in elevation from the western edge around 6200 ft/ 1900m at Crane Flat to its crest at 9945 ft/ 3031 m at the Tioga Pass entrance along the eastern boundary of the park.

As you traverse the Sierra Nevada reflect on how the paths we travel today are informed by history. Notice the rock work near Tenaya Lake and think about Chinese Laborers laying the stones. When the roadway opens up near Tuolumne Meadows can you envision a gathering of Tribes celebrating bountiful harvests and bargaining over nature’s bounty?

What to expect along Tioga Road in summer

A black bear crossing Tioga Road in summer. We see mountainsides covered in green conifers and a granite peak in the distance.

A black bear crossing Tioga Road in summer.

Notes on Tioga Road

As mentioned before Tioga Road is a winding, paved highway that traverses the Sierra Nevada. For some it is an enjoyably scenic byway with incredible vistas overlooking miles of granite wonderlands. For others, it may be more of a white-knuckling experience.

Speed limit signs are regularly posted and there are ample pullouts for drivers wanting to let people pass or needing a break. Please take note in certain areas regarding wildlife crossings.

Depending on the year, you may also see signs drawing attention to locations where a bear was struck by a vehicle. While Yosemite black bears are incredibly intelligent, curious creatures, they have not yet learned how to look before crossing the road. It is up to us to keep an eye out and maintain safe driving speeds.

Services available along Tioga Road in summer

There is a gas station at Crane Flat on the western edge of Tioga Road. On the eastern edge gas is available in Lee Vining.

During most summers there are limited services available in Tuolumne Meadows: a post office, a grill, a small grocery store, and a visitor center. Park rangers at the public information office can provide more information regarding this year’s available services.

There are lodges at White Wolf and Tuolumne Meadows that open depending on weather, staffing, and repairs.

A group of friends on a cloudy spring day at Olmsted Point, with Clouds Rest and Half Dome visible in the background

Olmsted Point is a great vista for group photos along Tioga Road in summer.

Scenic Vistas and Special Programs
  • Siesta Lake
  • Olmsted Point
  • Tuolumne Meadows
  • Parsons Memorial Lodge home of the annual Parsons Memorial Lodge Summer Series and Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival.

Hiking from Tioga Road in summer

Below are recommendations for various hikes that embark from Tioga Road in summer.

Short Day Hikes from Tioga Road in Summer

Soda Springs: 1.5 mile/ 2.4 km round trip from the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center

Tenaya Lake: A short walk from the parking area is a sandy beach or follow the trail along the lake for more gorgeous views of the surrounding peaks and domes.

Day Hikes with some Elevation* Gain from Tioga Road in Summer

Gaylor Lakes: 2 miles/3.2 km round trip with 500 feet/152 m of elevation gain. This trailhead is adjacent to the Tioga Pass entrance station. This steep hike brings you to a ridge with incredible views of the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Cathedral Lakes: 7 miles/11.3 km round trip with 1000 feet/ 305 m of elevation gain. The trailhead is at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. This is a classic High Sierra trail that leads to two alpine lakes with great views of Cathedral Peak.

*Ever hiked at higher elevation before? Some may experience difficulty along certain trails because of the elevation. In some cases people may experience excess fatigue, headaches, a decline in normal performance, appetite loss, naseua, or other symptoms. It is always good to listen to your body and medical professionals when considering athletic activities.

Curious about backpacking from Tioga Road? Check out these resources to help you plan your trip. Remember that backpacking in Yosemite National Park requires a wilderness permit.


Photo credits:
Tioga Road in Summer (header photo) by Jeff Cepek
Views from Dog Lake by Tonia Storlie
Black bear cross the road by NPS
Group at Olmsted Point by Keith Walklet