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California Road Trip – Which Highway?
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Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
California Road Trip – Which Highway? on 05/24/2014 08:26:43 MDT Print View

Road tripping to Yosemite in July and it looks like I have three good options to travel from South Lake Tahoe down to Sonora. I’m looking for the most intriguing / scenic option out of the three. I’ll most likely have a few hours for stopping here and there, but the plan is to make it just a day trip.

-Carson Pass HWY (88)

-Alpine State HWY (4)

-Mono HWY (108)

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: California Road Trip – Which Highway? on 05/24/2014 10:14:18 MDT Print View

108 has some great gets slow going at the pass BTW, 4 is not too bad. Actually if you want a fun dayhike, once you get to the pass you can hike to Kinney Lakes which is about 1.5 miles....quite pretty too. 88 is alright but I think the other two highways offer more.

Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: California Road Trip – Which Highway? on 05/24/2014 11:36:38 MDT Print View

I agree with Ken's rankings of those 3 options. But the clincher is that 88 or 4 mean traveling south on the west side instead of on 395. That would be a major mistake, IMHO.

If you aren't in a hurry, you could take 50 to 89 to 88 in Hope Valley (which is beautiful). Then get back on 89 through Markleeville, and go over Monitor Pass to 395. Then south and cross to the west side via 108.

Short detours up 88 and 4 would allow you to cross all 3 passes, if you're a checklist kinda guy. A longer (2.5 hour?) detour and you could do Tioga Pass, too, plus grab lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli. Maybe skip the pass (but not the lunch!).

David T
(DaveT) - F
ca hwy on 05/24/2014 11:39:56 MDT Print View

Always love the drive through Markleeville (nice grocery in town for a stop) and over Monitor Pass. If you have time to head south, bomb up to Bodie if you have time, take a picture of Mono Lake from the viewpoint heading south, check out the tufa towers and visitor center at Mono Lake, eat a monorito (burrito) at the store in Lee Vining, and in general enjoy the incredible scenery down 395. And then over Tioga 120 to west side 49. Too bad you have to turn off before driving down the east side and the views of the High Sierra wall. If you need to do it quicker, do the first part and then over Sonora Pass on 108.

But how does the Yosemite part fit into the Tahoe to Sonora part?

Edited by DaveT on 05/24/2014 12:00:46 MDT.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: ca hwy on 05/24/2014 12:59:07 MDT Print View

My bad. Sonora will be my launching point into Yosemite the next day. Also, I should have stated that I plan to take Tioga Road east to see the Lee Vining and Mono Lake area after the backpacking trip in the Park.

Thanks for the responses! The 108 suggestions don’t add all that much time according to Google Maps. Hope Valley doesn’t look far out of the way and neither do some of the other side trips. Any others I should consider?

I guess my general route then would be 89 South through Markleeville. Eventually hop on 395 South through Topaz, then the long haul west on 108 to Sonora.

I’ll definitely take that Whoa Nellie Deli food recommendation as the post hike meal has to be … you know, a post 6-day-hike-worthy-meal.

Edited by timdcy on 05/24/2014 13:00:17 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: ca hwy on 05/24/2014 13:02:30 MDT Print View

Before you take that drive, read up a bit on the pioneer history of that area. After the early pioneers came the miners.


Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: Re: Re: ca hwy on 05/24/2014 13:11:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for that tip Bob. I take it you're referring specifically to the Sonora area? Speaking of mining, I'm looking forward to gawking at Tonopah on the way out.

Edited by timdcy on 05/24/2014 13:12:10 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: ca hwy on 05/24/2014 13:25:24 MDT Print View

Tim, the Sonora area is very big on old mining history. However, the obscure places like Markleeville are nice also. Some places were big on gold, some were big on silver, and some were other. Some of the historic areas have restored the old mine cabins and mills. In other places, you have to know what was there 150 years ago to have any appreciation.

It is also fun to read up on the original pioneer routes into California. Of course that was back in the days of horses and mules. Now, a few high-speed highways follow the same routes, more or less. So, as you drive along and stare out the windshield of a car, you can think back to the miner on his horse and what it must have seemed like back then.

There was very little mining that happened within what we now call Yosemite National Park, but there was some on borders and just outside the park in each direction.


Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
hope valley, Markleeville, 108 on 05/25/2014 11:39:05 MDT Print View

That would be the way I would go. 88 over Carson Pass is relatively busy, 4 over Ebbetts Pass is a goat path, and 108 is in between with better views from the roadway. Columns of the Giants is right on 108 and is worth a stop.