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Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Seattle, Washington
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Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

We will be in June Lake area in mid-May. If the east entrance to Yosemite is closed, what are our options and how long will it take to drive to various places in the park? We are interested in driving, taking pictures and short walks over easy terrain. Thanks in advance.

Washington State
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1. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Sorry. If Tioga Pass is closed, there isn't access.

You might get lucky and have Sonora Pass open, but that drive would be 5 hours one way to Yosemite Valley.

Even when Tioga Pass is open, it's over 2 hours to Yosemite Valley from June Lake. Tuolumne Meadows is the scenic part of Yosemite NP that's closer to June Lake, but it will be quite wet/slushy in May & June (again, if Tioga Pass is open.)

San Francisco
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2. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

As PNWF said, June Lake is not a practical base for visiting Yosemite any time of the year. It's one of the "gateway" towns and a good stopover on the way into the park, but not near enough to go back and forth. The closest Eastern Sierra community to Yosemite is Lee Vining, and it is about 75 miles from Yosemite Valley over a narrow, curvy mountain road. Of course, when Tioga is closed, all of the above is irrelevant.

If you have a trip to June Lake planned and booked, and you don't want to make the long roundabout trip to approach Yosemite from the west, then focus on enjoying the Eastern Sierra. Go to Mammoth Lakes and of course Mono Lake; Bodie if the road is open by then; Lone Pine and Mt. Whitney which is two hours south; maybe even Death Valley if you have a couple of day to do justice to it. Then plan another trip to Yosemite at a time when Tioga Pass is open, or a trip that approaches from the west.

Washington State
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3. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Thanks F_RR. I totally missed the option of enjoying June Lake. Duh.

Here is some info about the area. You probably won't be able to go in the Park, but you can see lots in the Eastern Sierra! tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361 Remember that there will still be some snow on the ground.

Redlands, California
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4. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

To clarify (in my opinion) June Lake works fine for the Tioga Road part of Yosemite, although it is too far for the Valley. Later in the season its a very viable option for hiking around the Tuolomne Meadows area--but in May, not so hot.

I'd add that Convict Lake makes a pleasant hour's circuit if the path is snow-free, and its just off the 395.

LA
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5. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Cal-Trans attempts to open Tioga Pass for Memorial Day Holiday weekend. In 2013 this will be Saturday May 26.

However that is only a target and never a guarantee.

As mentioned above, even if Tioga Pass is open, it is still another 2 hours drive through the park to the valley floor where most of the most familiar sights of Yosemite are.

Overall, I agree June Lakes is a bad choice of places to visit the western part of Yosemite, even if Tioga Pass is open.

If Tioga Pass is closed, you are going to have a drive of 5-7 hours depending on which Sierra pass is open. Sonora Pass is the closest, but it opens only about a week ahead of Tioga.

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Thanks all for your very, very helpful input. I guess Yosemite will have to be done at another time. We've never been to the Eastern Sierra and there should be plentiful scenery and sights closer to June Lake that will be enjoyable as well.

San Diego...
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7. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

One thing close to June Lake would be the hike up Rush Creek to Gem Lake, a hike which starts from Silver Lake which is right along the June Lake Loop road. It would give you a sampling of the "high Sierra country." It may be more snowy than seen in these pictures, but this is one way to get up into the high country from the June Lake Loop: travelswithbillandnancy.com/hik_2009-06-30.h…

Also pretty close to June Lake is Mono Lake, only about a 30-minute drive, if that interests you. https://www.monolake.org and http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=514

And another hour north is the ghost town of Bodie, if that interests you. http://www.bodie.com and http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

To the south of June Lake is Mammoth Lakes and Devil's Postpile National Monument, providing it is open at the time of your trip. http://jrabold.net/mammoth/ and http://www.nps.gov/depo/index.htm

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, with the oldest trees in the world that reproduce by seed, is a possible day trip, about a 2.5-hour drive from June Lake. www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/specialplaces/…

For an overview of the Eastern Sierra region, see http://395.com, http://thesierraweb.com, http://www.monocounty.org and travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

If, by some chance, Tioga Road in Yosemite is open when you are there, you could make a day trip from June Lake to Yosemite Valley, but it will take up the whole day, driving there, seeing Yosemite Valley and driving back to June Lake. It's possible though, providing Tioga Road (120) is fully open. Check the status of the road at nps.gov/yose/…CP_JUMP_106631

Edited: 13 January 2013, 00:40
San Francisco
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8. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

Mono Lake is among the most worthwhile places to see in a reasonable range from June Lake. It's one of California's great natural wonders as well as an important historic landmark in environmental preservation history.

The ghost town of Bodie is a little farther north, but you'll need to check whether Hwy 270 is open. It closes for winter and reopens once the snow thins out enough to make travel safe. The last couple miles are unpaved, rough gravel, but usually OK for any car driven carefully. Bodie is one of California's outstanding ghost towns that is preserved but not restored or made into a tourist attraction. It was a gold mining settlement in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. You'll see it just as the residents left it, with furniture, clothing, etc, in the buildings. See if a tour is offered of the Standard Mill that refined the gold ore.

Also check on road conditions for the Bristlecone Pines. Hwy 168 is a maintenance priority because it connects main thoroughfares in CA and NV, but the side road to the forest gets close to 10,000' in elevation and is not a state highway. Since it doesn't "go anywhere" (except the forest), it isn't routinely maintained in winter. The visitor centers in Lee Vining should have current road and weather info for the whole area.

9. Re: Access to Yosemite while staying in June Lake

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