Monitor Pass

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Monitor Pass
My Public Lands Roadtrip- Nevada Views from Slinkard Wilderness Study Area (19396615418).jpg
The view from a 9,000 foot peak, just south of Monitor Pass
Elevation8,314 ft (2,534 m)
Traversed by SR 89
LocationAlpine County, California, United States
RangeSierra Nevada
Coordinates38°40′32″N 119°37′10″W / 38.67556°N 119.61944°W / 38.67556; -119.61944

Monitor Pass (el. 8,314 ft / 2,534 m) is a high mountain pass in California in the Sierra Nevada southeast of Lake Tahoe. It is traversed by State Route 89 near that highway's southern terminus at U.S. Route 395 near the community of Topaz. While this section of Route 89 serves to connect the basins of the West Walker River and Carson River, Monitor Pass itself lies on a side ridge between tributaries of the East Fork Carson River. Crossing the pass allows for a more direct route between U.S. 395 and Markleeville, California, at the expense of some additional elevation.

Monitor Pass is part of the route taken by Jedediah Smith in late spring of 1827 when leaving California at the end of his first exploratory journey, the first crossing ever of the Sierra Nevada by a non-native. Smith first came down from Ebbetts Pass, then continued from Monitor Pass past Topaz Lake into Nevada.[1]

The highway through the pass was completed in the early 1950s, making it one of the most recent Sierra Nevada passes to be opened by a paved road. The highway project was promoted by Robert M. Jackson of Markleeville, who worked for the Alpine County Public Works Department for more than 30 years.[2]

State Route 89 over Monitor Pass is subject to winter closure due to snow accumulation. Dates of closure vary depending on the weather, but Monitor Pass is generally closed to vehicular traffic between late November and early April.[3]


  1. ^ Smith, Jedediah S., [Harrison G. Rogers], and George R. Brooks (ed.). The Southwest Expedition of Jedediah S. Smith: His Personal Account of the Journey to California, 1826–1827, p. 147. Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, [1977] 1989. ISBN 978-0-8032-9197-3
  2. ^ "Routes 89 through 96". Caltrans. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
  3. ^ "Mountain Pass Closure Dates". Caltrans. Retrieved 2008-09-21.

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