Tioga Pass

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Tioga Pass
Tioga Pass.png
The Tioga Pass at the entrance to Yosemite National Park
Elevation 9,945 ft (3,031 m) [1]
Traversed byCalifornia 120.svg SR 120
Location Mono / Tuolumne counties, California, United States
Range Sierra Nevada
Coordinates 37°54′40″N119°15′29″W / 37.91111°N 119.25806°W / 37.91111; -119.25806 [1]
Topo map USGS Tioga Pass
Relief map of California.png
Red pog.svg
Location in California

Tioga Pass is a mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. State Route 120 runs through it, and serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park, at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station. It is the highest elevation highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of 9,945 ft (3,031 m) [1] . [2] Mount Dana is to the east of the pass, and Gaylor Peak to the west.



Tioga Pass is named after Tioga Mine, whose name came from the Tioga River in New York: Tioga is an Iroquois and Mohawk term meaning "where it forks".[ citation needed ]


This pass, like many other passes in the Sierra Nevada, has a gradual approach from the west and drops off to the east dramatically, losing more than 3,000 ft (910 m) by the time the road reaches U.S. Route 395.

The pass is subject to winter closure due to high snowfall, normally from around the end of October until the end of May the following year, though these dates are subject to considerable variation. In heavy snow years, the road has closed in early October, and has remained closed as late as early July. In light snow years, the road may remain open until December and open as early as April. [3] [4] [5]

Tioga Pass is the most direct route from Bishop or Mammoth Lakes, California to Fresno, Merced, and Stockton. There are four highway passes to the north, between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, but none to the south for about 200 mi (320 km), until Sherman Pass in southern Tulare County.

This is on the Great Basin Divide, which demarcates the Great Basin. The latter is the largest area in North America from which waters don't drain towards an ocean.


There are several trailheads into the Yosemite backcountry which begin at Tioga Pass, including the trail to the Gaylor Lakes to the west/northwest, and the trail to the summit of Mount Dana. Dana Meadows is immediately south of the pass alongside the highway, as the pass itself is roughly angled north–south as opposed to east–west. Dana Meadows contains several small lakes.

A popular recreation and camping area exists just north of the summit of the pass at Tioga Lake. It is in the Inyo National Forest.

Less than 7 miles to the southwest of the pass, inside Yosemite National Park, is Tuolumne Meadows. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through, and it crosses the highway here.


Some of the wildlife in the area include birds of prey, marmots, bobcats, and occasionally bighorn sheep can be seen.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tioga Pass
  2. "Tioga Pass in California". AllTrips. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  3. "Tioga Road Opening & Closing Dates". National Park Service. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  4. "Tioga Pass Road Opening and Closing Dates". Mono Basin Clearing House. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  5. "Winter Driving Tips". Caltrans. Retrieved January 2, 2023.