YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, PARTICULARLY ROUTE 120 (TIOGA ROAD), EPITOMIZES MOTORCYCLE RIDING PLEASURE: as long as you ride early enough in the morning to beat the crowds. Don’t get me wrong. I love Yosemite. But I don’t love how popular this place is. Yosemite, and for that matter, Yellowstone National Park, are crown-jewel motorcycle destinations. But they are best enjoyed with a heavy dose of tolerance for a slow pace behind a parade of other visitors, which might remind you of the traffic around a shopping mall at Christmas.
The good news is that the prime motorcycle roads of Yosemite and other National Parks are considerably less populated at sunrise.
This weekend my buddy Richard and I rode up Tioga Pass to the entrance of Yosemite (elevation 9943 ft., highest highway pass in California).
When you’re entering Yosemite from the east by motorcycle, Tioga Pass will be memorable. Be aware though, since it’s so high, and receives so much snow, Tioga Pass may not be open even in June.
In fact, a few years ago I was making plans to ride up to Yosemite via the eastern slope and was surprised to learn when I was booking a motel room over the phone that the pass wasn’t open yet. Hence, I canceled that trip.
Anyway, the pass was open for this June weekend, so Richard and I enjoyed our 3000 feet morning climb up to the park entrance, and then took our time wandering down State Route 120 into the heart of the park.
Whether you’re a morning person who will benefit from a more peaceful encounter riding through this morning mountainous bliss, or a motorcyclist who likes to sleep in, your motorcycle tires need to ply this place. Yosemite is truly a wonderous hunk of Mother Nature.