Tuolumne Meadows and the High Country
This section of Yosemite has some of the most rugged sublime scenery in the Sierra. In summer the meadows, lakes, and exposed granite slopes teem with life. Because of the short growing season, the plants and animals take maximum advantage of the warm days to grow, reproduce, and store food for the long, cold winter ahead.
The Tioga Road (California 120), crosses this area. This scenic highway, originally built as a mining road in 1882-83, was realigned and modernized in 1961. The road passes through an area of sparkling lakes, fragile meadows, domes, and lofty peaks that only 10,000 years ago lay under glacial ice. Scenic turnouts along the road afford superb views. At Tioga Pass the road crosses the Sierra's crest at 9,945 feet, the highest automobile pass in California.
Tuolumne Meadows (at 8,600 feet) is the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra. It is 55 miles from Yosemite Valley via the Tioga Road. Long a focal point of summer activity, it is also growing in popularity as a winter mountaineering area. In the summer Tuolumne Meadows is a favorite starting point for backpacking trips and day hikes. The meadows are spectacular in early summer, abounding in wildflowers and wildlife.
Rangers at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center
, open during the summer, can help you.
Remember that Yosemite’s meadows are fragile and are easily affected by foot traffic and are closed to bicycles and autos.
A trip into the high country can be rewarding.
But remember that the elevation ranges from 7,000 to 13,000 feet.
Even hardy visitors find that vigorous exercise can make them short of breath.
Slow your pace; take time to awaken your sense of wonder.