Tioga Pass Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

6.7
FIETS
12 mi
DISTANCE
3,172 ft
GAINED
4.9 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Tioga Pass is one of our favorite bike climbs.  The stark scree cliffside along 6/10ths of a mile segment in the middle of the climb is unique and lends to the epic feel of this climb.  The climb ends at the entrance to Yosemite National Park at just under 10,000'. 
While Tioga pass averages only 4.9% (5.5% if adjusting for some descents on the climb) the five mile middle section of the climb averages 7.6%.  The steepest quarter-mile is 10.4% and steepest mile 8.6%.  Coupled with the elevation (30% less oxygen at the finish than at sea level), Tioga Pass is nothing to take lightly. 
Roadway:  Excellent. From the National Park Website for Tioga and Glacier Point Roads:  "In some years, these roads may be open during limited periods to bicycles prior to opening to cars. Any updates regarding pre-opening access on these roads will appear on this webpage. Unless otherwise posted here, both roads are closed to cyclists if they are closed to vehicles." 

Traffic:  Mild to moderate - depending on the time of year and day you are riding.  Traffic has never been a problem on our four climbs up Tioga Pass. 

Parking:  We have parked on main street in Lee Vining for all but one of our climbs -   MapStreet View.
Get provisions in Lee Vinning, or Tuolumne Meadows (20 miles from the start) if you are riding through to Yosemite Valley. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
One of our favorite rides is from Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining (map; 75 miles gaining 8,750'), stay over in Lee Vining (hotel options) and then ride back to Yosemite Valley the next day (map; 75 miles gaining 5,865') - the difference in elevation gain is because Lee Vining is at higher elevation than Yosemite Valley.

See also our Yosemite Valley Climb Area page:  Yosemite National Park.

ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Difficulty: Challenging
3
Road
3
Traffic
5
Scenery

CURRENT WEATHER

NEARBY CLIMBS (0) RADIAL PROXIMITY

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Aug 3, 2021
Started at 7:30 per recommendation and the traffic was fairly light. Only one motor home passed during the climb. Parking at the Mono Lake visitor center provided a good warmup prior to taking on the climb. Great climb! Great fun! Definitely recommend this one.
Jun 5, 2021
difficulty: Challenging
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 3
Jun 5, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 3
A fairly long climb, Tioga does have a solid middle section. You ride this one for scenery however and it is spectacular. Narrow road and traffic so keep your head on the way up and down.
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

Climb Profile Not Found
CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Tioga Pass, Yosemite - panoramic view of Tioga Pass, Sierra Nevadas

Cycling Tioga Pass, Yosemite:  One of the greatest bike climbs in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Ride 12 miles to 9,945’ gaining 3,272’ at 4.9% average grade.

Visit our Cycling Yosemite National Park page.  This is a US Top 10 Most Epic Bike Climb.

Before heading out on your Yosemite-area cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.

"Tioga" is named for an Iroquois and Mohawk term meaning "where it forks."  The most spectacular part of Tioga Pass may be the sheer drop off that is dramatically obvious when you look back at the viewpoint (see Google Streetview, below) at mile 8.3.  

photo collage, PJAMM cyclist stands at summit of Tioga Pass, PJAMM cyclist rides on Tioga Pass with mountains behind him and wildflowers in front, aerial drone view of roadway carved into mountain side, sign for Inyo National Forest

Cycling on Tioga Road (Highway 120).

Tioga Pass is the beginning of the 75 mile journey from Highway 395 westbound into Yosemite Valley.  It is one of four routes, or Gateways into Yosemite (the other three being Highway 120/Groveland from the north, 49/140/Mariposa from west, and Highway 41/Oakhurst from the south).

The eastern Park (Eastern Gateway) entrance is right at Tioga Pass at almost precisely the 12 mile mark of the climb.  The crux of the climb begins at mile four and the next five miles average 7.4% compared to the 4.6% average for the full climb.

Cycling Tioga Pass - beginning of climb - cyclist on bike with roadway sign; hwy 120 sign

The climb is on Highway 120 to the park entrance.

Cyclist on road, Mono Lake in background

Mono Lake is in your rearview mirror as you begin the climb.

Sign for Inyo National Forest 

Climb is in Inyo National Forest (1,903,381 acres; est. 1907).

Aerial drone view of cyclist on two-lane roadway climbing up Tioga Pass

Aerial drone view shows amazing rock formations on Tioga Pass

The amazing rock formations . . . and . . .

. . . sheer cliffs along the climb make this an epic cycling adventure . . .

PJAMM Cyclist stands with bike on mountainside, Tioga Pass, amazing rock formations

. . . with some amazing photo opportunities!

cycling Tioga Pass - cyclist passing flowers, roadway and mountains

Awesome!  9,000’ . . .

. . . .Hey!  You still have 945’ to go!!

Looking down on Tioga Lake 

Tioga Lake - One mile from the park entrance and finish.

PJAMM Cyclist stands with bike near ticket booth at Yosemite National Park entrance 

Enter the park just past finish of climb.

Tioga Pass sunrise

                                                         And the #1 reason to start your climb early . . .

We recommend beginning this climb in the early morning to avoid the Yosemite Valley-bound traffic which always includes some, if not many, RV’s and trailers, which may include rentals driven by tourists inexperienced with such a vehicle.

Food/Fluids:  There is nothing along the first 12 miles of the route, but food/fluids are available, if you are continuing on towards Yosemite Valley, at Tuolumne Meadows Grill and the Tuolumne Meadows Store (mile 19.3) and Crane Flat Gas Station (mile 58.6).

That’s a wrap!!

CYCLING YOSEMITE

PJAMM’s Yosemite NP Climb Page

Aerial drone photo Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley - El Capitan + Half Dome

Photo collage; El Capitan; Western Entrance; Tioga Pass; Hetch Hetchy Dam; Glacier Point (middle)

Photos clockwise from upper left:

El Capitan; Western Entrance; Tioga Pass; Hetch Hetchy Dam; Glacier Point (middle)

Viewpoints between Lee Vining and Yosemite Valley:  This route includes so much of what Yosemite has to offer: Tioga Pass (beginning of ride),  Lembert Dome (mile 18.5), Tuolumne Meadows (miles 19-20).

Lembert Dome

 Lembert Dome.

Tolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows.

Tenaya Lake (miles 26.5 to 27.5), Olmstead point (mile 29.2 - views of Half Dome  and a great viewpoint on the way back into the valley, which is one of the few points where you have excellent views of both El Capitan and Half Dome).  

Tenaya Lake 

Tenaya Lake      

Olmstead Point

 Olmstead Point.

El Capitan and Half Dome as seen on the way down towards Yosemite Valley

El Cap and Half Dome on the way down to Yosemite Valley.

Fee to enter the park:  As of June, 2015, the fee to enter the park on a bicycle was $15.  We purchased the $80 All-Parks Pass which gives us access for the year into all National Parks.  

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  The roadway is excellent throughout, but the road is narrow and there are many wide vehicles on the road after the early morning hours, although this route is closed to commercial vehicles.