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Sneak Peek of Tioga Pass Frozen Lakes

Tioga Road wasn’t open yet but those high lakes were calling me and it was well worth it to me to take the long way around to get there. Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park will soon be open but here is a sneak peek from my adventure over there June 5 and 6 this past week.

So I drove south on 99E to Bakersfield, east on 58 through Tehachapi, north on 14 then 395, a night at Lone Pine, then from Lee Vining, west on 120 to Tioga Pass. Traffic was very light and my first stop was to the closed entrance gate to Yosemite National Park. CalTrans was in the process of putting nice new stripes on Hwy 120 from the entrance east.

Sally and I checked out beautiful Tioga Lake (9,636′ elevation), parking next to it for several hours.

Tioga Lake June 4, 2019

I thought Sally was posing for a picture but soon discovered that she was pointing a Marmot.

I slowed down by Tioga Pass Resort, where they had big snow damage a couple of years ago. They have been closed since then and are estimated to reopen the summer of 2020. The next day when I drove by, they were busy removing snow from the front of the store/restaurant.

Tioga Pass Resort June 5, 2019

The next day I planned on walking up to Saddlebag Lake. I knew that Saddlebag Lake Road was closed but was surprised to discover that the road hadn’t been plowed yet.

Saddlebag Lake Road at Hwy 120 June 5, 2019

As I headed up the snow covered Saddlebag Lake Road, a couple of ski tracks and a few footprints at the beginning were the only signs of people. It was a beautiful walk up the 2.5 miles to the lake.

Small seasonal running water that eventually fed into Lee Vining Creek created some beautiful views along the way.

In case you were pondering hiking to Gardisky Lake (10,502′ elevation), this is the parking area for that trailhead. It might be a while before anyone can park in it.

There is an overlook along the road just before you top over into Saddlebag Lake (10,066′ elevation) and it always delivers on spectacular views of even higher country along Mt. Conness (12,280′ elevation).

And not too far past that overview, I caught my first glimpse of Saddlebag Lake Dam and the lake was still iced over!

Saddlebag Lake Dam June 6, 2019

I walked by the buildings owned by Saddlebag Lake Resort and they are still buried!

Saddlebag Lake Resort June 6, 2019

Looking back the way I came.

As I walked closer to the south end of Saddlebag Lake, I could see that it was indeed starting to melt, but not much yet.

Saddlebag Lake June 6, 2019

Saddlebag Lake June 6, 2019

As I walked on, Sally checked out a hole in the snow. Nothing there but good smells of critters.

I wandered around a bit then headed back down and the view of Mt. Dana (12,960′ elevation) was in my sights the entire way.

Mt. Dana

I drove up to Tioga Lake to eat my lunch and just fiddled around for a few hours, watching clouds build. What a gorgeous element they added to the view of Tioga Lake.

Tioga Lake June 6, 2019

Tioga Lake June 6, 2019

The wind was picking up and I drove back down to Lee Vining, but not before making a quick stop at Ellery Lake (9,462′ elevation).

Ellery Lake June 6, 2019

Dog Hike?

This hike can be a good dog hike if your dog is up to it. There aren’t any rattlesnakes or poison oak and there is plenty of good, fresh drinking water for her all along the way. That means I don’t have to pack her water and that is a good thing! Sally has never had any problems drinking the water out of these higher elevations but some dogs may not be as easy as Sally on this issue. I think you need to know your dog and you may need to carry some water for them. This area also has bubonic plague and if you dog gets a hold of a critter such as a squirrel or mouse, this could be something to watch for after a trip in this area.

Here is some information from Inyo National Forest regarding their dog rules:

Traditionally, National Forests have welcomed dogs. However there are a few rules that apply to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. If you are camping with your pet, please practice the following:

  • Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home.
  • During the day keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise restrict its freedom to roam at will.
  • At night keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or in a tent.
  • Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite.

General rules for dogs within the Inyo National Forest:

  • Dogs are allowed for trips staying in the National Forest. Pet food must be stored the same as required for your food.
  • Dogs are prohibited, as are any other pets, on trips visiting the wilderness of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
  • Pets need to be on leash or under verbal command. Do not allow pets to chase or harass wildlife.


What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Saddlebag Lake Doarama

Map and Profile:

Tioga Pass Area Topographic Map

Saddlebag Lake Hike Profile


Tioga Pass Resort

Saddlebag Lake Campground

Hoover Wilderness

Inyo National Forest Policies and Rules

Inyo National Forest Hiking and Camping with Dogs

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Camping and Fishing with Sally at Saddlebag Lake and Beyond June 26, 2018

Camping and Fishing with Sally at Saddlebag Lake August 17, 2017

Hiking with Sally from Saddlebag Lake through Twenty Lakes Basin August 15, 2017

Hiking with Sally in the 20 Lakes Basin July 12, 2016

Hiking with Sally up to the Hess Mine in the Tioga Pass Area October 26 2016

Hiking with Sally on the 20 Lakes Basin Loop August 22, 2013

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