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Yosemite to Bishop or vice versa in Nov when 120 is closed

Original Post
Jan Tarculas · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 821

What are the highway/freeway people take if they're in Yosemite and need to go to east side during winter time? I have some friends from Germany that I am taking on a road trip starting Nov 19 from Southern California (riverside area). We plan to hit up Yosemite and Sequoia first then hopefully be in bishop by the weekend.  

Plan B would be in Bishop Nov 22-24 then drive to see Yosemite on the 25th. So same applies for this plan, what highways do people take to go to the west side when the 120 is closed.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,082

I used to live in the Bay Area. It just depends if 108 has closed as well.  It’s usually still open late November.  If it has snowed and all 3 passes have closed I think the easiest way is via Tehachapi and 99. Because otherwise you have to go to Gardnerville and thru so Lake Tahoe and down 88 thru Jackson and then down 99. The southern route is just so much easier to drive. Less windy, no icy conditions etc. however, the drive up 395 past Bodie etc is far more beautiful. The drive thru 108 is gorgeous. 88 is gorgeous. The southern route - Bishop/ Olancha/ Tehachapi/ Bakersfield, Is OK to ugly. If I wanted to show someone how gorgeous the area is, I’d go the northern route. 

Jan Tarculas · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 821

Does the 108 usually stay open a little longer than the 120?

Doctor Drake · · San Francisco · Joined May 2018 · Points: 85

In years that aren't big snow years, I've taken 108 when 120 has been closed. Not as much of 108 is at high elevation, so it doesn't collect as much snow and is easier to keep clear.

+1 on the drive through the north being gorgeous. Also 395 heading down from Tahoe is pretty cool, and definitely more interesting than the Central Valley and Tehachapi

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,082
Jan Tarculas wrote: Does the 108 usually stay open a little longer than the 120?

Yes, often significantly later. My impression over the years is that they close 120 at the earliest excuse!

Maureen Maguire · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Jan Tarculas wrote: Does the 108 usually stay open a little longer than the 120?

There's a long answer and a short answer.  Short answer is not any more.  

There's 3 passes you can count on. Tehachapi on 58… Echo summit on 50 and Donner Pass on 80. The rest are day to day in November, closed for full winter season. Check Caltrans Highway information on the day you want to drive over.  On the day, not before. Sometimes you start from Bishop and by the time you get to the pass it's closed.  Be aware that many of the campgrounds are already closed for the season. The parking pass called SnoPark will be in effect for Sierra trailheads. Anyway Phylp is right the north routes are way more beautiful and alpine. Check those Bishop temps for late November, gets pretty quiet in town
Jan Tarculas · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 821

Thanks for all the replies

Gerald Adams · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2019 · Points: 0

CA 88 ,the Carson Pass Highway, is closer to Yosemite than Hwy.50 and is open in November except for major storms when all Northern California passes may have chain controls & closings .

Jan Tarculas · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 821

well its almost time for me to take the trip. it'll be next week. anyone know if the 120 is still open? is the 50 or 88 still the best option if 120 is closed?

Maidy · · California · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 342

There's really no way of predicting anything with those roads this time of year. Assume 120 will be  closed. Check Caltrans hwy closures before you do the crossover and take 50/88 (Monitor pass? - if open) .  If a storm rolls in on your travel day you may have to divert to the 80.  Try not to put yourself on any tight time schedule for travel.  I've had to drive around the south end/Tehachapi when a random storm shut down the 80 as well.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,082
https://roads.dot.ca.gov

and

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/road-conditions.htm

for up to the minute info.  Can change very quickly.  Have fun.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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