Glacier Point Road will be closed in 2022 and may have reduced access in 2023. This road construction project could be construed as a challenge for travelers to Yosemite National Park, but it was our second president John Adams who famously declared “every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” Yosemite Mariposa County holds this lemons-to-lemonade truth to be self-evident. What some might call workarounds, around here we call them “playarounds.”
Despite the Glacier Point Road status, there are countless nature-lined avenues leading to outdoor fun in Yosemite Mariposa County. From discovering the hidden gems of the Park’s nearly 1,200 square miles to exploring the historic Gold Rush mecca of downtown Mariposa, from Sequoia grove-hopping to hiking (with grand effort) up to the temporarily car-less south rim of Yosemite Valley, the possibilities are as endless as the blue Sierra sky.
Glacier Point Road is getting some much-needed rehabilitation in 2022. Time to explore other parts of Yosemite Mariposa County!
Glacier Point Road will be closed for improvements for the duration of 2022, and then will reopen (with 30-minute delays) in the spring of 2023. Some of the scheduled work includes: repaving the entire 10.5 mile stretch from Badger Pass Ski Area to the Glacier Point overlook at road’s end; paving the overflow parking area at Sentinel Dome to protect fragile habitat; formalizing the McGurk Meadow Trailhead parking lot; and improving the pullout for the Clark Range scenic overlook. The present Glacier Point Road was completed in 1935 when the original wagon road, which opened in 1882, was replaced.
In a win for winter sports enthusiasts, the Glacier Point Road closure will not affect winter recreation. The road up to Badger Pass Ski Area will remain open during the winter. Ditto for the vast and wonderful remainder of Yosemite Mariposa County. Here are some fine detours to help you discover the “roads less taken”…
The road may be closed, but you can still enjoy the view from Glacier Point by taking one of the hiking trails. Without all the cars, you’ll even enjoy some solitude while you’re there.
Okay, we know who you are. Our ambitious visitors who hear Glacier Point is closed to vehicles for 2022 and say, “of course I’m going up there.” Indeed, if you are in good shape (emphasis on “good”) and want to hike up to Glacier Point then 2022 could be that rare opportunity. There are several options from Yosemite Valley, including the Four Mile Trail (9.6 miles round-trip), the Panorama Trail (17 miles round-trip), and for our marathon lovers, the Pohono Trail (25.8 miles round-trip). Yosemite Valley sits over 3,000 feet below Glacier Point making all hikes strenuous with a capital “S,” but as the old saying goes…no pain, no gain.
The waterfalls and cascades along the Chilnualna Fall are just one of many beautiful and interesting things to do in Wawona.
Just 12 miles south of the junction for Glacier Point Road along Highway 41 is one of Yosemite’s true treasures, the hamlet of Wawona. The hub of the Southern Yosemite region, Wawona captures the Park’s multi-cultural history with its newly-named Yosemite History Center, while the Victorian-era Wawona Hotel (established 1856) is a National Historic Landmark where visitors can grab a bite and, yes, golf. (Note: the Wawona Hotel is scheduled to open for the upcoming season on March 25, 2022)
Sitting at 4,000 feet (the same elevation as Yosemite Valley), Wawona has plenty of recreating to boot. From hikes such as the less-visited yet equally impressive Chilnualna Falls and spring wildflower walks in Wawona Meadow to seasonal swims at the Wawona Swimming Hole, this gem is just around the bend from Glacier Point and a worthy option.
There is nothing quite so humbling and inspiring as standing in the presence of the giant sequoias – the most massive trees on earth.
Yosemite has the arboreal honor of being home to the most massive trees on earth: Sequoiadendron giganteum, aka the Giant Sequoia tree. In keeping with our alternatives to Glacier Point, we’ll begin our hop with the closest (and most famous) grove — the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Following a number of customizable loop trails, the Grove features such photogenic specimens as the Fallen Monarch, the Wawona and California Tunnel Trees, and its senior member the Grizzly Giant — estimated to be 2,700 years old.
As of this writing, we don’t know yet whether the shuttles along the Mariposa Grove Road between the Welcome Plaza near the south entrance and the Arrival Area at the lower grove will be running in 2022.
In our quest for big trees, there are several other grove-hopping options within Yosemite. Merced Grove is a pleasant hike (3 miles out & back/600 ft elevation gain) along a wide, smooth trail. It has fewer trees, but their stature more than makes up for the quantity, and the crowds are thinner here.
Trailhead to trailhead, Tuolumne Grove is just a 10-minute drive along Highway 120 making the duo ever so hoppable. Reaching this stand of giants is a relatively easy hike (2.5 miles out & back/500 ft elevation gain) though it’s all downhill from the parking lot (and, of course, uphill on the return). If you’re in decent shape and there’s been a dump of snow, both of these groves are prime snowshoeing candidates during Yosemite’s magnificent winters.
For feeling grove-y outside of Yosemite, Nelder Grove provides some sequoia shadow play along the Shadow of the Giants Interpretive Trail. This mellow 1-miler features more than 100 mature sequoias (including the massive, 246-ft. tall Bull Buck) and the option for pitching a tent at the Nelder Grove Campground. On your way take the time to explore historic Fish Camp, or stay at the world-class Tenaya Lodge resort.
Nestled in beneath the towering domes of Tuolumne, Tenaya Lake is a favorite for beach-goers, kayakers and SUPers. It’s one of many scenic locations along the Tioga Road.
Entering the Northern Yosemite region, Tuolumne Meadows serves as the paragon of the Sierra High Country. With the Tuolumne River’s slow, wide curves and the surrounding granite domes and the sun reflecting off the grass, it’s like entering a brilliant exhibit depicting a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Getting here is a treat as well. Rising to almost 10,000 feet at its highest point, Tioga Road rivals Glacier Point for dramatic vistas and canyon views, including the granite cathedrals of Yosemite Valley. Try Olmsted Point for a unique view of Half Dome’s north side and Tenaya Lake to the east.
Note: Tioga Road (Highway 120) closes in winter — check for current road conditions.
Hetch Hetchy is a sister to the famous Yosemite Valley, with hiking trails, waterfalls, and amazing views out over the reservoir.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is truly one of Yosemite’s unsung masterpieces. Boasting a citadel of granite that protects its steely blue surface and a waterfall that plunges with enviable volume, it’s the perfect playaround during the 2022 closure of Glacier Point Road.
From O’Shaughnessy Dam set out through the surprisingly long rock tunnel (silhouette photography a must) on a 5.5 miles round-trip hike to Wapama Falls. You’ll cross several footbridges beneath which (and sometimes on top of!) the High Country water roars, and marvel at the beauty relatively few visitors to Yosemite take the time to enjoy.
If that weren’t enough, the drive to Hetch Hetchy is an unforgettable experience as you peer down into the dramatic Tuolumne River Canyon and get your first glimpse of Hetch Hetchy’s pristine waters in the distance.
Take a drive up the Golden Chain Highway (Highway 49) to visit scenic views and historic towns like Coulterville.
When one door closes another door opens, and Mariposa County is proof positive that the concept works with roads as well. Yes, Glacier Point Road is closed for 2022, but Highway 49 (aka The Golden Chain Highway) offers plenty of alternatives for the curious traveler. From exploring our Gold Rush roots at museums in charming Coulterville and old town Mariposa, the history angle is covered. “Shop local” is alive and well in Mariposa County, with art galleries and vintage clothing, and even Chocolate Soup. Snacking more your thing? Try our foodie forays and the Triangle Tasting Tour to satisfy your cravings.
There is so much to do in Yosemite Mariposa County that you’ll want to stay a while. (Photo: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite).
With elevations ranging from 1,000 feet to 13,000 feet above sea level, the natural landscapes of Yosemite Mariposa County are as distinct as the puffy summer clouds that roll over the Sierra. Our lodging options are equally varied, with a price point and luxury level for everyone. So come stay for a while and relax, take your time to explore every corner with the confidence that Yosemite Mariposa County is always-and-forever wide open.
It’s time for a mini-road trip to discover the freedom of the open road, and the many small-town gems along various routes through Yosemite Mariposa County.
Discover the ‘other’ domes in Yosemite Mariposa County. From Sentinel Dome to Lembert Dome, there is plenty to explore and love beyond the famous Half Dome.
Discover a multitude of fun family events and festivals in Mariposa County. These county celebrations provide extra interest and entertainment in a county filled with things to see and do. Whether you enter the howling competition at the Coyote Festival or help clean up trash at Yosemite’s Facelift, you’ll be glad you did.