Yosemite By Motorcycle

A few weeks ago, several friends and I rode our motorcycles through Yosemite National Park. I just wanted to tell you a little but about it...

Half Dome, Yosemite National ParkA few weeks ago, several friends and I rode our motorcycles through Yosemite National Park. I just wanted to tell you a little but about it, in case you're thinking of doing the same.

We travelled from the Temecula area in Southern California. We spent a total of three days, with one day riding up, one day riding through Yosemite, and the last day riding home.

To sum it up, Yosemite makes for some very enjoyable riding. Yosemite National Park is mostly inaccessible by car or motorcycle. They say that 95% of the park is "designated wildnerness", and as such, you'd have to hike to see it all. But fortunately for us, the pavement gods provided just enough passable road for our Harleys to travel down allowing us to enjoy some spectacular sights.

Also, this was Summer when we visited, so there was lots of traffic. Average speeds range from 5-40mph; you won't be able to lean into the twisties, but at least you'll be able to hear your Hogtunes speakers loud and clear. You just have to keep your eyes open for cars stopping suddenly in the middle of the road everytime a bunny hops by.

We didn't pack a lunch, instead we planned to get some grub at The Lodge down in the Yosemite Valley. We didn't find The Lodge, but we did find a different lodge, and they had a bar/lounge area that was largely lacking in customers. We could get cold-cut sandwiches and mixed drinks. That was good enough.

There were lots of other bikers riding through. We passed several groups of motorcycles riding in packs. I actually took notice to see if they were Harleys, metric cruisers, dual sports, Beemers, and I have to say Harleys are pretty popular at the park. My guess its because the riding is pretty slow there.

On the first day of our ride, we all rode up US 395 to the town of Lee Vining, on the eastern side of the park. We stayed overnight at the Gateway Motel. The Gateway is not cheap, and it's pretty much a rat hole in comparison to places like Motel 6 and Super 8. But it does offer a great view of Mono Lake, it's right in the middle of town, and there just aren't many accomodations in Lee Vining anyways. We ate dinner at Bodie Mike's BBQ across the street. We had a great time sucking down baby backs, jack-and-cokes, and cracking jokes. Only problem is that the bar closes at 10:00pm.

On the second day we took off for Yosemite. We took Hwy 120, which runs up and over Tioga Pass. The ride through Tioga Pass is some great riding. Snow capped peaks, sweeping curves, lakes and streams. It's one of the highlights of riding to Yosemite.

There are several places in Yosemite to pull over and enjoy the sights. We pretty much stopped at most of them. The ride through the Yosemite Valley is a grand sight to behold, with fields of green grass contrasted against the gray granite walls of towering cliffs. Photographs just can't capture the magnitude of it all.

Make sure to take the ride to Glacier Point. Here is where you'll get the best view of Half Dome. It costs you $10.00 to take your motorcycle into Yosemite, and this is where you'll get your $10.00 worth.

Leaving the park, we headed into Oakhurst where we planned to overnight, before heading home the next day.

If I was to ride through Yosemite again, I'm not sure I'd do much different. I'm not big into camping, and while I do enjoy short afternoon hikes, I still prefer to ride my motorcycle. But if you have never ridden a motorcycle through Yosemite, it's something that needs to be done before you die.

If you're wondering about where to buy gasoline in Yosemite, don't worry about it. You can fill your tank in Lee Vining and get to Oakhurst all in one tank, and still ride all of the asphalt there. I can't remember my mileage after I got to Oakhurst, but it was something like 150 miles. The riding is mostly easy; you're going to get great gas mileage. But for the record, there is a gas station at the intersection of Big Oak Flat Rd and Tioga Pass Rd, as well as a station at Wawona.

Tioga Pass Hwy 120
Tioga Pass, Hwy 120, heading into Yosemite

Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite
Sightseeing at Tuolumne Meadows

Olmsted Point Yosemite
Me and my bike, Olmsted Point

Tuolumne Grove Yosemite
The crew resting at Tuolumne Grove

Yosemite Valley
Riding through Yosemite Valley

Half Dome Yosemite
A view of Half Dome from Glacier Point


Yosemite National Park 5803853545919724437

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  1. Come back! But this time after spending time in Yosemite, which I agree is really great riding and scenery, visit Groveland which is on Highway 120 out the North/West entrance to the park. Check out the Live Music at the Iron Door Saloon, and stay the night at Hotel Charlotte across the street. There are lots of Special Events all year round, like the 49er Festival and Chili Cookoff each September that are worth a weekend visit. Ride Highway 49 on your way north or south for some more great curves and views!



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