Tioga Pass Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

12 mi
3,172 ft
4.9 %

2021 Tour de France


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. 
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.



Difficulty: Challenging



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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.

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Cycling Tioga Pass - 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

US Top 10 Most Epic Bike Climb

 "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.  

Cycling on Tioga Road (Hwy 120)

Tioga Pass is the beginning of the 75 mile journey from Hwy 395 westbound into Yosemite Valley (it is one of 4 routes (Gateways into Yosemite - Hwy 120/Groveland from the north, 49/140/Mariposa from west  and Hwy 41/Oakhurst from the south are the other 3).

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 4 and the next 5 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 Hwy 120 to the park entrance

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


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

The amazing rock formations . . . and . . .

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

. . . with some amazing photo opportunities!

cycling Tioga Pass - cyclist passing flowers, roadway and mountains

Awesome!  9,000’ . . .

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


Tioga Lake - 1 mile from the park entrance and finish


Enter the park just past finish of climb.


                                                         And the No. 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!!


PJAMM’s Yosemite NP Climb Page

Aerial drone photo Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley - El Capitan + Half Dome

Photo - from upper left clockwise:

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


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      


 Olmstead Point


                                                    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:  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.