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Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • $30 for seven-day park pass per car; $25 per motorcycle
  • 24/7

Details

  • Hiking Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.0
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    3.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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In the east section of the park you'll find Tuolumne Meadows, known for being one of the Sierra Nevada's largest high-elevation meadows at 8,600 feet. Here, you'll find plenty of scenery to write home about, including the peaceful grasslands, lush forests, windy, bubbling rivers and creeks and scenic mountainscapes. You can experience the scenery from the comfort of your own car, thanks to the vista points posted along Tioga Road (Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake), or take advantage of the many trails available within the vicinity. 

Luckily for hikers, there are a plethora of trails available. The least time-consuming trail is the flat, 1½-mile hike to Soda Springs, which goes right through the meadows. Continue farther along the trail and you'll hit the Glen Aulin trailhead. Glen Aulin is a much longer hike (11 miles) but offers more variety in terms of landscape, including closer dome views, waterfalls and a much more active section of the Tuolumne River, such as whitewater rapids. If that's too long of a trek, consider a more moderate hike to one of the region's many alpine lakes, including the Gaylor Lakes hike, a 2-mile trail that takes visitors to a stunning collection of small, alpine lakes about 500 feet above Tioga Pass. There's also Cathedral Lakes, one of the area's most popular trails (7 miles) and Mono Pass (8 miles), the latter of which goes straight into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. For more information about hiking in Tuolumne Meadows, visit Yosemite National Park's website

Visitors strongly suggest visiting Tuolumne Meadows because it is so different from the landscape of Yosemite Valley. Travelers found the meadows to be beautiful and incredibly peaceful, attributing the quiet atmosphere to fewer crowds. Because Tuolumne Meadows is considered part of Yosemite's backcountry, and 53 miles northeast (about an hour-and-a-half drive) of Yosemite's most popular attractions, not as many travelers make it to this part of the park. Not only that, but Tuolumne Meadows is only accessible seasonally. Toiga Road, the only road that can reach Tuolumne Meadows, is typically open during the summer months thanks to snow that tends to stick around from May, or sometimes early June.

Tuolumne Meadows features a visitor center, a wilderness center, the Tuolumne Meadows Grill and the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. There are also campgrounds available for booking. There is no entrance fee or set hours for the region, though it's not a good idea to wander along trails after dark. In addition to Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows benefits from Yosemite's free shuttle service. The seasonal service, available only during the summer months, offers transport from the meadows to various area points of interest, including Olmsted Point and Tenaya Lake. For more information about Tuolumne Meadows, visit Yosemite National Park's website

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#1 Yosemite Valley Unless you are solely planning backcountry expeditions during your trip to Yosemite, chances are you'll end up in Yosemite Valley at one point or another. That's because Yosemite ... Read more » Photograph by Chanon Kanjanavasoontara / Getty Images

#2 Tunnel View Outlook Along with Glacier Point, Tunnel View is widely considered to be the most popular outlook in all of Yosemite. From its vantage point, travelers get an eyeful of the majestic ... Read more » f11photo / Getty Images

#3 Glacier Point Glacier Point is considered one of the best and most comprehensive lookouts in Yosemite. Visitors regularly describe Glacier Point's sweeping, panoramic vistas as "breathtaking," calling it a truly can ... Read more » Powerfocusfotografie / Getty Images

#4 Half Dome Hiking Yosemite's Half Dome Cables Route has been described as unforgettable and even life-changing by travelers. But this expedition is not for the faint of heart. The trail is ... Read more » Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

#5 Tuolumne Meadows In the east section of the park you'll find Tuolumne Meadows, known for being one of the Sierra Nevada's largest high-elevation meadows at 8,600 feet. Here, you'll find ... Read more » David H. Carriere / Getty Images

#6 Mist Trail The Mist Trail is one of the park's most popular trails. What makes The Mist Trail so unique is not its sites Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall but how ... Read more » Anna Gorin / Getty Images

#7 Mariposa Grove "Giant" seems to be an understatement for this expansive grove of Sequoia trees in the southernmost section of Yosemite. Mariposa is one of three groves in the park where visitors can ... Read more » Scott_Walton / Getty Images

Yosemite Valley picture in Yosemite
Tunnel View picture in Yosemite
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Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Mist Trail picture in Yosemite
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Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
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For an excellent photo op in Yosemite Valley, head over to Valley View You can find this beautiful view right off of Northside Drive near Pohono Bridge.  Photograph by Chanon Kanjanavasoontara / Getty Images

Tunnel View is the most popular lookout spot in Yosemite. From here, you can see top sights such as Half Dome and El Capitan, both of which are located in Yosemite Valley f11photo / Getty Images

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Half Dome is probably Yosemite's most famous rock formation, towering at more than 8,800 feet above Yosemite Valley. Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Tuolumne Meadows is known for being one of the Sierra Nevada's highest elevation meadows at 8,600 feet above sea level.  David H. Carriere / Getty Images

Easily one of Yosemite's most popular trails, the Mist Trail takes visitors right up alongside Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Mariposa Grove is the largest seqouia grove in Yosemite, housing about 500 mature sequoia trees. Scott_Walton / Getty Images

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