The Tioga Pass, in the Yosemite National Park, is one of the most scenic drives you'll ever take.
Between the eastern side of the Sierras, specifically where we were at Mono Lake, and the other side of the Sierra mountains, specifically, Yosemite Valley, are some seriously big mountains.
To cross the Sierra Mountains, you can either drive further north and cross the mountain range where it's flatter or take the scenic route, the Tioga Pass.
The Tioga Pass
The Tioga Pass runs from Mono Lake to the western side of the Sierra Mountains. It's only open in the warmer months when the weather conditions are good enough (click here to read the Tioga Pass Vehicle Restrictions - your family hire car will be fine though).
To use the pass, or more correctly, to enter Yosemite National Park, you must pay for a ticket, which you can buy from the Park Rangers at the Mono Lake visitor's centre. (Click here to see the latest fees for Yosemite National Park). The Park Ranger we spoke too also provided us with info to make the most of our stay in Yosemite over the next few days.
this was one of the most beautiful places in the world
Fortunately, there are stopping points along the Tioga Pass where you can take in the views - and there are many of them.
Maybe it's because I love the outdoors and the mountains, but to me, this was one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Ellery Lake was one of the first places along the pass we stopped at.
Imagine unzipping your tent in the morning to this view
This mountaintop lake is staggeringly beautiful, with everywhere you look framed naturally by mountains and trees.
What's more, there's a campground here. Imagine unzipping your tent in the morning to this view!
At this point, we came across another creature we don't get in the UK: ground squirrels.
Further along the pass is another stopping point that's a must-visit: Tuolumne Meadows.
As we found, this can be very busy in the summer, but it's well worth a stop if you can find a parking space.
We enjoyed a picnic by the river, taking in the views and the sunshine.
It's also where we got a closer look at these huge lumps of rock that make up the famous 'domes' of the region.
As you continue west on the Tioga Pass, there's a final stopping point where you can catch a glimpse of the famous Half Dome.
somewhere I hope I get a chance to go back to one day
This was one of the most scenic drives of my life and somewhere I hope I get a chance to go back to one day.
Next, we set off to find these Giant Redwoods we had heard so much about...