The SuperTopo Yosemite
Page offers all the info you will need on getting to Yosemite
Valley. From there, it is either a 1.5 hour drive east on Highway
120 to Tuolumne Meadows. It is a three hour drive to Tuolumne from
the Reno/Tahoe area and about a 1.5 hour drive from Bishop.
Airport is the closest airport to Tuolumne. From there, you
will need to rent
a car (2.5 hour drive) or take a bus to Mammoth
on Mammoth Shuttle (760-934-3030) and then take a shuttle to Tuolumne.
You can also fly into Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento or Fresno.
Each of these places is a 3-4.5 hour drive from Tuolumne Meadows. Info
on these airports
YARTS provides bus transportation from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne and
from the Eastern Sierra to Tuolumne (click
here for schedule or call (877) 989-2787.)
A shuttle leaves from Yosemite Lodge every morning from July through
Labor Day. It provides access along Tioga Road/Highway 120 to Crane
Flat, White Wolf, and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. Per person charge:
Adults $11, Children $5.50. Purchase tickets one day in advance
to guarantee seating (209-372-1240). Click
here for information about this and other tours in Yosemite
Once in Tuolumne, a free shuttle bus provides convenient access
throughout the Tuolumne Meadows area between the Tuolumne Lodge
and Olmsted Point (including Tenaya Lake) during the summer.
Tuolumne has some of the best weather of any alpine rock climbing
area on earth. That said, Tuolumne is still in a massive
mountain range and receives severe thunderstorms and lightning throughout
All climbing in Tuolumne is accessed off of Highway 120. Because
of its high elevation, Highway 120 east of Crane Flat and west of
Lee Vining, is closed in the winter. The road closes on the first
snow of the year (usually November) and opens sometime in late May
or June or July, depending on the snow year (for
data, click here.) During the winter, it is possible to climb
in Tuolumne but very few people make the arduous ski in.
During early season, Tuolumne conditions are often the best. No
crowds, no mosquitoes and long days. The only problem is that
many approaches may be wet or snowy, depending on the snow year.
Around July 1, the crowds arrive in Tuolumne, usually with the
mosquitoes. The crowds are not bad relative to Yosemite, but you
will probably have to wait in line for the most classic routes.
The mosquitoes, on the other hand, can be terrible. Be sure to
bring long pants, long sleeve shirts and bug repellent. In September,
the crowds and mosquitoes again leave Tuolumne. While the climbing
conditions are still great, the days are short and the nights
During the summer (especially in July), thunderstorms can set in
and bring rain and lightning for days. If you arrive in one of these
weather patterns, consider driving either east to the Mammoth/Bishop
area or west to Yosemite Valley.
Road and Weather
Here is the forecast for Tioga Pass
and Tuolumne road conditions — or call (209) 372-0200
Meadows temperatures — daily report of temperatures at
Tuolumne Winter Conditions — weekly a update from backcountry rangers
Lightning tends to hit high points,trees,and water,but will hit
low points next to high rocks,flat areas near tall trees,and dry
land in areas with lakes. Know CPR. Unlike most other injuries that stop the heart, electrical shock victims
can suddenly awaken after extended CPR. CPR should be continued
It takes a few days for most people to adjust to the rarefied air,
so drink lots of water and dont run around too fast if youre
just coming up from low elevations. On your first day in Tuolumne,
climb a route with a short approach to let yourself acclimate.
Tuolumne has beautiful sunny weather in the summer—except for
thunderstorms. Small, puffy clouds seen before 10 a.m. are a sure
sign of heavy rain, hail and worst of all, lightning. Thunderstorms
usually appear in cycles,and generally during periods with hot,calm
weather in the Central Valley.
in the Tuolumne
Unlike the Yosemite Valley experience, Tuolumne Meadows is relatively
uncrowded and serene. The meadows provides just enough basic services
to comfortably camp. If you are craving some better food, more services,
or just a day excursions, Lee Vining, Mono Lake and Mammoth Lakes
are all less than an hour away. Read below for more specific info.
good map of the park is available online from the park service
There is one campground in Tuolumne Meadows located next to the
Tuolumne Store that has about 300 sites. Half of the sites can
be reserved in advance (call 877-444-6777 at least 2-3 months
in advance) and half of the sites are on a first come, first serve
basis (arrive in the morning to ensure you get a site). Sites cost
$26.00 per night with a six person two car limit. Be aware that
mosquito's at the Tuolumne campground can be particularly fierce
in June and July. Group sites are also available for $50 per night
(maximum of 30 people per site) - RV’s up to 35 ft/Dump station
nearby. Pets are permitted except in the group and horse sites.
A lot of other campgrounds are found within a 20-30 miles drive
to the east or west of Tuolumne Meadows. A couple favorites:
Flat Campground 30 miles to the west, $12 per night, first come first serve. Because you are
between Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite
Valley and there is a fair
amount of bouldering near the campground.
- Lee Vining
Canyon- 20 miles to the east because it is lower elevation, near The Tioga Gas
Mart (Mango Margaritas and Fish Tacos) and it
also has some good bouldering. For more info on these campgrounds click
here. There are a total
of 9 Forest Service campgrounds east of Tuolumne Meadows most
of which are first come, first serve and cost $14-21 per night.
Note that the campgrounds near Tioga Pass are often battered by
- There is a lot of free camping north, east and south of Mono
Lake. If you you have time to explore the dirt roads, you will
find a spot with an amazing view of Mono Lake.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is the closest lodge. White Wolf is about 20 miles to the west. The High
Sierra Camps are a series of tent cabins you hike to. Just outside of the Park Boundary is the Tioga
Pass Resort which offer cabins year round (in the winter you
need to ski or snowmobile up to them.) Drive fifteen miles from
Tuolumne Meadows and you will reach Lee Vining, a small town with
a few motels, restaurants and other basic services. For good value in Lee Vining lodging, check out El Mono Motel, or Murphey's. In the winter, be sure to ask for the Ice Climber discount.
A limited selection of groceries are available at the
Tuolumne Meadows store. In addition, you can purchase groceries
in Lee Vining at the Mono
Market. The closest big supermarket is an hour from Tuolumne
Meadows at the Mammoth
The only prepared food in Tuolumne is at Tuolumne Meadows Grill
which serves hamburgers, fries, etc. Eight miles east of Tuolumne
Meadows, the Tioga
Pass Resort offers a cozy dinning room with a
great breakfast, lunch and dinner and any last minute baked snacks
you need before your climb. The The
Tioga Gas Mart, located 14 miles west of Tuolumne Meadows,
features the Whoa
Nellie Deli which serves some of the best
food in the area. This isn't just any gas station as you will
find a great selection of sandwiches, pizza's, ahi tuna salad,
mango margaritas, fish tacos and a variety of other savory treats
for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is also the local social hub
and provides great live music throughout the summer. A great
spot in Lee Vining for coffee is Latte
Da where you will also find FREE wireless internet.
Gear and Climbing Guides
The Tuolumne Mountain Shop (209-372-8436), located in the gas station
near the Tuolumne Store, offers a selection of climbing equipment.
For a more extensive selection of gear, drive 50 miles to Mammoth
Mountaineering (361 Old Mamoth Rd, Mammoth Lakes; 888-395-3951).
They have a full selection of climbing gear
as well as rentals of
climbing shoes, sleeping bags and other backcountry gear. Wilson's
Eastside Sports (224 North Main Street, Bishop; 760-873-7520)
has an extensive collection of climbing and backpacking gear and
it about a 1.5 hour drive from Tuolumne Meadows.
You can get climbing instruction and arrange for a guide through
Mountaineering School (209-372-8344) which is also
located in the gas station.
In 1998, property damage in Yosemite National Park caused by bears
exceeded $630,000 and more than 1,100 vehicles were broken into.
Bears have damaged cars for as little as a stick of gum or an empty
soda can. If you want whats yours to remain yours, remember
three things about bears: they are hungry, smart and strong.
When bears smell food, even if its locked in your trunk
or glove compartment, they shift into high gear. They get turned
on by odors of containers that used to contain food, but do no longer.
They even go for toothpaste and sunscreen. Bears dont need
to smell food; they see something like a grocery bag or an ice chest,
and associate it with food. In fact, they dont even need to
see that much. If a bear sees clutter inside a car, hell think,
I wonder whats under all that stuff? and go to
Breaking into a car is a trivial exercise for a bear. He inserts
his claws at the top of the door frame and pulls down. Then he climbs
in and trashes the car. You cant outsmart or out-muscle a
bear. Unless you are on a wall (and bears have been known to poach
there, too), stash your food in one of the bear-proof storage lockers
provided by the Park Service.
For more information check out the Park
Service's bear page and weekly bear bulletin.
In addition to bears, be on the lookout for marmots. Cute from
a distance, these plump critter love nothing more than scrounging
for food in climbing packs while you watch helplessly from two pitches
up. Be sure to hang your your backpack, even if it does not have
food in it, high on a tree branch while you are away from it.
Phones, Wireless Internet, and other Misc. Stuff
The closest wireless internet to Tuolumne is Latte
Da coffee shop
in Lee Vining (you need your own laptop). Cell phones work sporadically
There is a good signal around the Tuolumne Store and on top of
most domes. Showers cost $2 and are available at the Tuolumne Meadows
lodge between 12 and 3pm. Gas is available (at exorbitant prices)
next to the Tuolumne Meadows Store. Gas is also available 15 miles
east in and around Lee Vining (also at exorbitant prices). There
is a post office located next to the Tuolumne Store. There is a
pack station in Tuolumne. A message board is located outside the
Tuolumne Meadows Store. The nearest ATM is at the Lee Vining Market.
The nearest bank in 50 miles away in Mammoth. Wilderness
permits are required for camping in the backcountry. They
are available for free at the Tuolumne Wilderness Wilderness
Center. There is a great day hike to Mono
Pass for a rest day.
nearby climbing areas
Patina granite, solid volcanic tuff and a variety
of other stone is all within a half hour to 1-2 hour drive south of Tuolumne
Meadows on the Sierras East Side along CA395. Stretching from the Bachar Boulders,
Clark Canyon and Deadman’s Summit just south of Lee Vining to the areas
around Mammoth like Way Lake all the way down to the world class areas around
Bishop like the Happy/Sad Boulders and the awesome Buttermilks are so many unimaginable
boulder problems that they can fill all the days of the seasons but one – summer.
A lot of the best of these areas are too hot in summer so that is when Tuolumne
takes over with its 9,000 foot elevations and high concentrations of granite
things to do
*Hot Springs! – Near Mammoth, Bridgeport and Bishop. Ask a local or
read a book then take a look and take a dip.
*Hiking in Tuolumne
Meadows– Mt Dana, Cathedral Lake Trail, Glen Aulin
Trail, May Lake Trail.
*Fishing – Lee Vining Canyon and all around Tuolumne Meadows and CA395
from Reno to Bishop (about 20 minutes to 2 hours from Tuolumne Meadows)
*Sightseeing – The Tufa Formations at Mono Lake (25 minutes east of Tuolumne