The Tioga Pass is the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park that allows you the rare opportunity to drive across the Sierra Nevada Mountains on State Route 120, the Tioga Road (except in Winter when the road and pass are usually closed from November and do not reopen until May or June depending on the snowfall). It is the closest point to the Yosemite meadows and is also a gateway to eastern California and onto Nevada. Although not as beautiful as the views within Yosemite the pass at almost 10,000 feet (just over 3,000 metres) is the highest highway pass in California and it provides some pretty amazing sights as you make your way out of or into the national park.
The pass is also a California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark due to its construction in a canyon with a 7% grade and the narrow nature of the road along a steep drop. Construction was completed in two phases, the first in 1883 was a 90 kilometre (56 mile) wagon road up to a silver mine on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada’s. After all that effort the mine proved to be unprofitable and closed one year later! The second phase was constructed between 1902 and 1910 and by 1915 the two roads were joined and cars were starting to use the pass into Yosemite. Until 1937 the pass was completely a dirt road, sections were rebuilt in 1961 and between 1965 and 1971 to pave it and bring the road up to the standard it is today. If you ever get a chance to visit Yosemite make sure you take a drive along the pass.