Day 43 – Mono Lake to Stanislaus Nat Forest

Overland Camping Roadtrip Blog

Travel Day 43:

Total km driven to date: 8265km

Total km walked to date: 331.89km

Mono Lake, CA – Stanislaus National Forest

332km drive

10.07km on foot

                Yosemite was the focus of my day and wow I can’t say enough great stuff about it. It has vaulted above Joshua Tree as my new fav National Park. While it doesn’t have the animals that Yellowstone does it has the same sort of high mountain vistas, but also has amazing forests and in Yosemite village itself it is much like Zion with huge cliffs towering overhead all around you. It is such an awe inspiring place that I will be back for sure. I was on the road by 8am and started out on the east side of the park near the turn for Hwy 120 and the road quickly climbed from 6800ft up to the 9900ft Tioga pass at the entrance to the park. Once into the park you are in the High Sierra, which is characterized by big trees, meadows and huge granite boulders and outcrops all over the place. In some ways it is like Yellowstone without the Bison and more granite. As you wind through the high sierra side of the park there is people EVERYWHERE even on a thursday morning. Parking lots are full, campsites are full but at least the traffic isnt like Yellowstone because there is no animals to see every 1mile backing everything up. Lots of hikers and people carrying around crash mats used for bouldering and setting up rock climbing gear. Note to self, get into rock climbing, looks like a lot of fun! Stopped a few times for some hikes to take pictures and let Axel out of the truck, its neat hiking around here since its dense trees and then all of a sudden huge granite outcrops in the forest, great for climbing on or up. Just past Tenaya Lake there is a lookout spot at Olmstead Point that you can see down into the Yosemite Valley and catch glimpses of Half-Dome the famous climbing spot that dominates the valley.

I climbed up the granite mountain above the lookout point and got some great photos. Back on the road and we stopped a few more times to explore and then headed down-down-down into Yosemite Valley, at 3600ft it is a whole different world down there. Once again people everywhere and cars but it is the middle of everyones summer vacation. The Valley has a nice river running down the middle of it, with all sorts of people swimming and floating, and then randomly 20ft away someone fly fishing… The road is one way circling the valley floor with large meadows in between. Huge trees everywhere and even bigger cliffs on either side of you running 4000ft straight up from the valley floor. Amazing vistas and views everywhere you look.

                After we’d had our fill of the Valley we headed back up the way we had came (to 6800ft) and made the turn off for Hwy 108 which runs down out of the mountains, my plan was to head north and then right back into the Sierras again, crossing back over to the east side just north of the park so I could go to Tahoe in the next few days. What a change as you leave the park, dropping down all the way to 900ft above sea level with a crazy windy road into california ranch country. Its a lot hotter on this side of the Sierras, but not desert like at all, just brown dead grass due to the drought. We stopped for food and fuel in Sonora (yay, $3.28/gal…..way better than the $4.09 I paid for my last tank) and then followed Hwy 108 back into the mountains, climbing all the way back up to 6000ft in the Stanislaus National Forest. (So today my drive started at 6800ft, went to 9900ft, down to 3600ft, back to 6800ft, down to 900ft, back up to 6000ft….and somehow I got 13.8MPG!) Through some tiny villages and up towards the Sonora Pass, went through the small town of Strawberry and it is mostly  just huge campsites in the forest, drove through this one site that was all rustic wooden cabins with canvas roofs, but hundreds of them spread across a huge expanse of forest, looked really neat but of course thats not my MO. We left Strawberry and shortly found ourselves a killer spot in the pines on the top of a huge ridge overlooking the forest.


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