When the place you discover by accident becomes one of the most beautiful places you have visited: Tioga Pass / Tenaya Lake

Most of you know by now that Yosemite is my favourite place in the world (so far!). You can read our posts on Mirror Lake and Camping for some background on our trips. I’m working my way up to a big post on the Half Dome hike – there is so much to share on this topic that it has been in progress for a while!

Around every corner is a stunning new view and the way the park has retained its ‘wildness’ just adds to its allure. Even after a couple of visits to the park, we have still found something new each time.

We just had to pull in to the side of the road for this view!

On our last trip, we were leaving Yosemite by a different exit, crossing Tioga Pass to make our way towards Death Valley. We had passed over Tioga Pass before, but we had done it at 2am in the thickness of night and therefore missed the views. This time, we were leaving Yosemite in the early morning and had enough light to see all of the sights on offer.

Tioga Pass is the highest highway pass in California and the Sierra Nevada. Due to its height, it’s usually the last road to open in summer and the first road to close in winter due to the ice and snow. On the journey, our ears were soon popping and the first time we made the trip, our bag of crisps burst open due to the altitude pressure: making us pull the car over, half in shock, half grateful that it wasn’t the gas canister for the camping stove!

The lake was like a perfect piece of paradise - we didn’t want to leave!

On this trip in the daylight, the trip probably took us twice as long as we stopped every ten minutes or so to pull over and admire the surroundings.

One place in particular really captured our attention: Tenaya Lake. Located at an elevation of 8,150 feet, this alpine lake is incredible. As we drove towards it in the car, both Wandering Beeb and I were lost for words, with “wow” being the only thing we had to say.

We weren’t expecting to see this glacial lake on our route through from Yosemite to Death Valley

Set back from the road, the little sandy beach and picnic table framed the water perfectly. The lake was formed by a glacier and the cliffs in the background stood out against the blue of the waters.

We didn’t know the lake was there, we hadn’t read any reviews and we certainly hadn’t built our route around visiting the lake. This was one of those occasions where going with the flow and meandering to our next destination had paid off, revealing a view we’d never intended to see and one that never left our minds.

2 thoughts on “When the place you discover by accident becomes one of the most beautiful places you have visited: Tioga Pass / Tenaya Lake

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