The Tioga Pass area (including Tioga Pass Road), from Mount Dana trail
|Elevation||9,943 ft (3,031 m)|
|Traversed by||State Route 120|
|Location||Mono / Tuolumne Counties, California, United States|
|Topo map||USGS Tioga Pass|
Tioga Pass (el. 9,943 ft. / 3,031 m.) is a mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains 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 highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. Mount Dana is to the east of the pass. 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 rough 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.
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 (914 m) by the time the road reaches U.S. Route 395.
Tioga Pass is named after Tioga Mine, whose name originated in New York: "Tioga" is named for an Iroquois and Mohawk term meaning "where it forks". That name applied to the pass geography, since the snow-pack and springs supply water to the Tuolumne River's Lyell Fork, which flows west and forms Tuolumne Canyon, and the Dana Fork which flows east toward Mono Lake.
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 hasn't re-opened until as late as mid-July. In light snow years, the road may remain open until December and open as early as April.
Tioga Pass is the most direct route from Bishop or Mammoth Lakes, California to Fresno, Merced, and Stockton. There are four passes to the north, between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, but none to the south for about 200 miles (300 km), until Sherman Pass in southern Tulare County.
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