California State Route 120

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State Route 120 marker

State Route 120
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 420
Maintained by Caltrans
Length: 153 mi[1] (246 km)
(Does not include the portion in Yosemite)
Existed: 1934 – present
Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road
Restrictions: Segment through Tioga Pass closed in winter
Major junctions
West end: I-5 near Lathrop
  SR 99 near Manteca
SR 108 in Oakdale
SR 49 near Chinese Camp
US 395 in Lee Vining
East end: US 6 at Benton
Highway system
SR 119 SR 121

State Route 120 (SR 120) is located in northern California. It runs from the San Joaquin Valley near Lathrop through Yosemite National Park, to its end at U.S. Route 6 in Mono County, eastern California.

Route description[edit]

Tioga Pass Entrance Station

This route is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System[2] and is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System.[3] However, it is not officially designated by Caltrans as a scenic highway.[4]

SR 120 as Tioga Road by Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park.

SR 120 begins as a freeway intersecting Interstate 5 to extend Interstate 205 through Manteca. In east Manteca the freeway ends at SR 99 and becomes a highway which continues to head east through Escalon, Oakdale and other various small towns. East of Oakdale there are no highly populated areas for 90 miles (144 km) as it heads into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and into Yosemite National Park. After leaving Crane Flat within Yosemite, it is known as Tioga Pass Road (or often simply Tioga Road),[5] and it retains that name as it travels through Tuolumne Meadows and over Tioga Pass at an elevation of 9,945-foot on its 59-mile (95 km) journey to its intersection with U.S. Route 395, at Lee Vining. After a jog to the south along US 395, it continues east as Mono Mills Road,[6] skirting the south end of Mono Lake and providing access to the Mono Lake South Tufa as well as the historical site of Mono Mills before cresting Sagehen Summit and ending with the intersection of U.S. Route 6 at Benton. Both the portions through Yosemite National Park and the stretch south of Mono Lake are subject to winter closure. Usually the highway is open through Tioga Pass by the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, and typically closes for the winter sometime in November.

California State Route 120 Markers at Yosemite National Park
Tioga Road, 1921. Photo by Robert Sterling Yard.
Tioga road and Tenaya Lake viewed from Pywiack Dome.


During the Gold Rush, SR 120 was originally known as Big Oak Flat Road, after the village of Big Oak Flat through which it passes in the Sierra foothills. It was a pack trail from Stockton which became popular with prospectors about 1849. By 1874 it was a wagon road which extended to the Yosemite Valley.

In 1921, the California State Assembly authorized San Joaquin County to transfer the county road connecting Manteca with then-Route 5 (now I-5) at Mossdale to the state.[7] It was numbered Route 66, as was a 1933 extension from Manteca east to Route 13 in Oakdale. Also in 1933, Route 40 was extended east from Mono Lake to Route 76 (US 6) at Benton.[8] The route from Manteca to Benton was marked as Sign Route 120 in 1934,[9] and was soon extended west to Mossdale,[10] replacing what had been part of U.S. Route 99W.[11]

The new BLM Granite Mountain Wilderness is immediately north of Route 120, just east of Mono Lake. [12]

Priest grades[edit]

West of Priest is a section of highway with over one hundred curves and hairpin turns, known as the "New Priest Grade." With a 4% grade, it opened in 1915 and was built by a group of local volunteers who desired an alternative to the very steep (17%) Old Priest Grade.[13] Today, both grades are paved and drivers can save three minutes by choosing the more direct old grade.[14] There is a 7,500-pound weight limit on the old grade.

Major intersections[edit]

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see the list of postmile definitions).[1] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

County Location Postmile
Destinations Notes
San Joaquin
SJ R0.49-21.18
R0.49 1 I-5 – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockton, Sacramento Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; signed as exits 1A (south) and 1B (north); west end of SR 120; former US 50 west; I-5 exit 461
R1.33 1C Yosemite Avenue Signed as exit 1 eastbound
Manteca R3.32 3 Airport Way (CR J3) – Sharpe Depot
R4.31 4 Union Road
R5.31 5 South Main Street
5.82[N 1]
6 SR 99 south – Modesto, Fresno, Los Angeles West end of SR 99 overlap; SR 99 exit 241
Manteca East end of freeway on SR 99
6.65[N 1]
SR 99 north / Yosemite Avenue – Central Manteca Interchange; east end of SR 99 overlap; SR 99 exit 242
8.84 CR J5 (Jack Tone Road)
11.64 French Camp Road
Escalon CR J6 / CR J7 north (Escalon-Bellota Road, McHenry Avenue) – Farmington, Modesto West end of CR J7 overlap
R16.92 CR J7 south (Main Street) / Kern Street East end of CR J7 overlap
STA 0.00-T18.17
3.16 CR J9 north (Valley Home Road) – Valley Home West end of CR J9 overlap
CR J14 north (Twenty-Six Mile Road) West end of CR J14 overlap
Oakdale 5.12 SR 108 west (F Street) / CR J9 / CR J14 south (Yosemite Avenue) – Modesto West end of SR 108 overlap; east end of CR J9 / CR J14 overlap
TUO R0.00-R41.52
8.19 CR J59 (La Grange Road) – La Grange, Merced
CR E15 (O'Byrnes Ferry Road) – Copperopolis
12.08 SR 108 east – Sonora East end of SR 108 overlap
Chinese Camp 15.52 SR 49 north – Sonora West end of SR 49 overlap
R23.90 SR 49 south – Coulterville, Mariposa East end of SR 49 overlap
Buck Meadows R39.46 CR J132 (Smith Station Road, Greeley Hill Road) to SR 132 – Coulterville, Merced
East end of state maintenance at Yosemite National Park west boundary
MPA R41.52-43.75
Crane Flat Campground To SR 41 / SR 140 / Big Oak Flat Road – Yosemite Valley SR 120 subject to winter closure from Crane Flat to Lee Vining
TUO 43.75-R56.15
West end of state maintenance at Yosemite National Park east boundary
MNO R0.00-58.99
Lee Vining R12.06
50.74[N 2]
US 395 north / Airport Road – Reno West end of US 395 overlap
June Lake Loop North Junction 46.40[N 2] SR 158 south – June Lake SR 158 subject to winter closure from North Junction to Silver Lake
Mono Mills Junction 45.96[N 2]
US 395 south – Bishop East end of US 395 overlap; SR 120 subject to winter closure from Mono Mills to Benton Crossing Road
Benton 58.99 US 6 – Tonopah, Bishop East end of SR 120
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 99 rather than SR 120.
  2. ^ a b c Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along US 395 rather than SR 120.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ "CA Codes (shc:250-257)". 
  3. ^ "CA Codes (shc:260-284)". 
  4. ^ "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways". California Department of Transportation. December 7, 2007. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Tioga Road; a History 1883-1961 (1961, 1980), "Reconstruction," by Keith A. Trexler". 
  6. ^ "Floodgap Roadgap's Summer of 6 -- U.S. Highway 6, Part 1: US 6 in California (Bishop to Nevada State Line; Inyo County, Mono County)". 
  7. ^ Statutes 1921 p. 1627: State highway in San Joaquin County
  8. ^ California Department of Transportation, State Highway Routes: Selected Information, 1994 with 1995 revisions
  9. ^ State Routes will be Numbered and Marked with Distinctive Bear Signs, California Highways and Public Works, August 1934
  10. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, California, 1942
  11. ^ American Association of State Highway Officials, log of U.S. Highways, American Highways, ca. 1932
  12. ^ BLM Granite Mountain Wilderness
  13. ^ "Priest Grade, Grizzly Gulch". Pine Mountain Lake Association. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "CA-120 E". Google, Inc. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  15. ^ California Department of Transportation, Log of Bridges on State Highways, July 2007
  16. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  17. ^ California Department of Transportation, California Numbered Exit Uniform System, SR-120 Eastbound and SR-120 Westbound, accessed February 2008
  • Map: "Stanislaus National Forest, California," U.S. Forest Service, 1979.

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata