Share:

Tuolumne Meadows

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite + Central Sierra, California

Start Exploring
Tuolumne Meadows

Share:

Advertisement
  • Tuolumne Meadows as seen from the top of Lembert Dome. Cathedral Peak (10,912'), left, towers above.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • 3 miles of the Tuolumne River turns through the alpine meadow.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Morning light on Tuolumne Meadows from Pothole Dome. Mount Dana (13,061') and Mount Gibbs (12,773') rise above Lembert Dome (9.449').- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Dawn vista over Tuolumne Meadows. Fairview Dome (9,728') is the tall granite dome in the center of the photo.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • The natually carbonated waters of Soda Springs.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Tuolomne Meadows.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Tuolomne River.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Tuolomne Meadows. Unicorn Peak (10,823'), left, and Cathedral Peak (10,912'), right, rise above.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Deer Grazing in Tuolumne Meadows.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Some of the park's top trails originate in Tuolomne Meadows, including the Cathedral Lakes Trail.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • The Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail both run through Tuolumne Meadows. - Tuolumne Meadows
  • Lembert Dome (9,449') is one of many large granite domes in the meadow.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Hikers explore the summit of Lembert Dome. - Tuolumne Meadows
  • During summer months climbers flock to Tuolumne Meadows for access to Yosemite's high-country classics. Here a climber tops out on Cathedral Peak.- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Backpacker's can pick up overnight permits at the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center- Tuolumne Meadows
  • Campsite at Tuolumne Meadows Campground- Tuolumne Meadows
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Yosemite high-country scenery. Hiking and climbing access. One of the largest meadows in the Sierra.
Cons: 
Accessible by car only seasonally.
Advertisement
Region:
Yosemite + Central Sierra, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Advertisement
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Yosemite’s high country is an outdoor enthusiast’s dreamscape, filled with jagged peaks, granite domes, expansive meadows, and glacilly-carved lakes. At the heart of it all lies Tuolumne Meadows, one of the largest meadows in the Sierra Nevada and the main access point for exploring much of Yosemite’s higher elevations.

Accessible by car from Highway 120/Tioga Pass Road that runs along the south side of the meadow, Tuolomne Meadows is home to a broad sub-alpine grassland surrounded by lodgepole pine forest that rises to grand Sierra peak and ranges. The road is the southernmost road to cross the Sierra; Highway 108 lies over 200 miles to the north, making the wilderness lands of the Sierra south of Yosemite the longest stretch of contiguous roadless wilderness in the country. Highyway 120 passes over Tioga Pass at 9,943 feet a few miles east of Tuolumne Meadows, making it the highest mountain pass highway in on the west coast.

Due to winter snowfall, Highway 120 is typically only open from May to November, limiting car-access to the meadow much of the year. Hikers and skiers can make the slog in, but for the most part, Tuolomne Meadows sees nearly all its visitors during the summer and early fall. The timing of  the road closure varies depending on the arrival of the first big fall or winter snowstorm, so check with the park for road conditions for status.

The Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River and multiple creek tributaries flow through the core of the meadow. During spring snowmelt, Tuolumne Meadows transforms with a bright and ephemeral burst of green. During this time the meadow is often more reminiscent of a wetland. The headwaters of the Tuolumne originate nearby, just to the east and upstream of the Lyell and Dana Forks.

Surrounded by striking granite formations, sharp peaks, pinnacles, and massive granite domes, Tuolumne Meadows offers a comforting swath of level terrain with a rugged backdrop. To the south rise the spires and peaks of the Catheral Range, including  Cathedral Peak, Unicorn Peak, and the Cockscomb. Within and near to the meadow are the notable granite domes, Fairview Dome, Pothole Dome and Lembert Dome, the latter two with summits that are accessible to hikers. Climbing routes, including a handful of Yosemite classics, ascend nearly all of the steep granite features visible from the meadow.

Hikers will love the trail access that Tuolumne Meadows offers. Both the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail pass through the meadow, and it serves as the starting point for reaching two of the famed High Sierra Camps, Vogelsang and Glen Aulin. Popular day hikes for Cathedral Lakes, Lembert Dome and Dog Lake all begin in the meadow. Within the meadow itself is a network of  trails allowing exploration and peaceful wanderings along the Tuolumne River and to notable landmarks such as Soda Springs.

Tuolumne Meadows sees a hefty amount of visitor traffic during the summer months. As such, the park maintains a visitor center, a Wilderness Permit Center, and one of the Yosemite National Park’s largest campgrounds at Tuolumne Meadows Campground. A gas station, provisions store, and mountaineering shop are all in operation during the peak season.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Map

Field Guide + Map

Download
Advertisement
Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(79 within a 30 mile radius)

Advertisement
Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
79 Members
Who's Done It
171 Members
Submission by
Team
319 Adventures Explored
311 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info