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California’s Tioga Pass Reopens to Connect Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park

California’s Tioga Pass Reopens to Connect Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park

The Tioga Pass, California’s highest mountain pass, reopened on 27 May for the 2021 summer and autumn season. The Tioga Pass State Highway 120 offers access between Yosemite’s east entrance and Mono County, meaning that visitors can enjoy a trip between Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park in just 45 minutes, as opposed to the 4+ hours in winter when the high country is inaccessible due to snowfall. 

Mammoth Lakes is home to an incredible mountain, expansive valleys and crystal clear lakes, plus two million acres of Inyo National Forest with dozens of remote hiking trails in the wilderness. It’s a perfect spot for those looking to escape into the wilderness and enjoy the laid-back Cali mountain life. Visitors can also take the mountain gondola from the Main Lodge to the summit of Mammoth Mountain for spectacular views out over the surrounding mountains and the Minarets.

Combine this with a few days in Yosemite National Park and surrounding Mariposa County. The park is home to some of the tallest waterfalls in North America, the largest trees on earth, miles of hiking trails, and an abundance of wildlife. Yosemite spans 1,000 square miles over a range of elevations from 3,000 feet to 13,000 feet, so there is plenty to do and see. Don’t rush and spend a few days exploring the fascinating gold rush towns of Mariposa and Coulterville and the Pioneer History centre in Wawona.

Although Yosemite National Park currently requires passes for visitation until 30 September there is plenty of availability for passes throughout August and September. Visitors will be able to experience the park at a much lower visitor capacity than previous summers. Incredible Adventures, YARTS and other tour companies are now offering opportunities for visitors to get into the park without their own vehicle passes, making a trip to Yosemite this autumn well worth it. More details on the reservation system can be found here

California is looking for a big tourism boost this summer. The U.S. has yet to lift its ban on international visitors, but that will most likely happen at some point during the summer. On 28 May Ireland removed the U.S.A from its mandatory hotel quarantine list.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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