View Full Version : Travel route for Mono Lake to Bay Area?

Tori Nelson
28-Sep-2009, 19:34
I'll be finishing up a trip to Mono Lake area and surrounds and then need to drive over to Pleasanton around the 10th of Oct.. I'm thinking the best way to get there might be the 120 over to the 580 (with the 108 and 205 mixed in the middle). I have many questions about doing this and whether it is the best way for me to go. I have no idea how long it will take to go this route if I went straight through and never took the 8x10 out to stretch her legs. And then, could I possibly make that trip and NOT take her out? (We used to go to Yosemite every summer for 3 weeks when I was a kid but the last time I was there was the last year they had the fire fall. Wow, that sure dates me!) It's so beautiful and I've wanted to go back for so long that I might have to stay over a night which would really screw up my other plans.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks, Tori

Drew Wiley
28-Sep-2009, 19:51
The fastest and possibly most scenic route is over Sonora Pass. I camped at Sonora
Pass last night and made it back to the East Bay in four hours flat. Add about one
more hour to Mono Lake. That's typical unless you encounter rush hour or serious
highway work. But deer season is impending, so there might be more traffic than
normal on Hwy 120. And if you haul the 8x10, well ... and the aspen turning color right about then at Conway Summit ...and a few dozen other photogenic distractions en route ...! I was tempted to stop at Knight's Ferry, but the light was a little off.

Jon Shiu
28-Sep-2009, 20:12
Hi, if you go to yahoo maps and put in your starting point, ie lee vining ca, and ending point, it will give you the distance and estimated travel time.


John Kasaian
28-Sep-2009, 21:30
Call Cal Tans the night before you leave---and take whatever they say with a big grain of salt.
Three times this year they've said "No delays" (twice on on I-80 and once on I-5) and each time there was serious roadwork going on (down to one lane.)

Jim Galli
28-Sep-2009, 23:12
Really depends on you. Last month I made the drive from Tonopah to San Juan Batista and back to Tonopah via hwy 120 in a single day. I was a tired puppy after 750 miles but as far as the driving, it really isn't very challenging. Unless it snows 18 inches on Oct. 9th. Oh, and I had time to stop and take pictures, even with 750 miles.

28-Sep-2009, 23:14
Hi Tori,
I routinely drive from Twain Harte to Pleasanton. It is a little more than 100 miles and can be done in right around two hours - if you do it when traffic is light! Traffic leaving Yosemite on Sunday will add significantly. I usually wait 'till after 7:00PM to leave Twain Harte.

There is a slight possibility that the passes will be closed too...It is not uncommon for the Sonora pass to be closed for a day or two here and there early in the season. Donner pass, near Reno/ Tahoe is plowed and so is almost always open...just in case.

Have fun! We've been having some nice (wild?) weather recently...we might even get some rain soon!

Jeff Conrad
28-Sep-2009, 23:34
I've found the driving time about a tossup between Tioga Pass and Sonora Pass. One additional consideration: if you don't have an Annual Pass, you need to pay the Yosemite entrance fee to use Tioga Pass.

The passes should be open on 10 October, but brief closures are possible after about the first of October, so check with CalTrans and carry chains if possible. Expect delays, especially on SR 108, to observe fall color, which should be close to peak at that time.

Drew Wiley
29-Sep-2009, 09:45
There's no road work on 108 this year except a tiny section just below the pass, which
should cause no delay. 120 thru Yosemite is much less predictable because the park
doesn't communicate with CalTrans very well. Generally when I go 120 I'm with someone who has a pass. In the old days they let me through free. Now I think they
charge $5 if you tell them you are just using the highway. Will still leave you time for
a shot or two. When I get my Golden Geezer pass in a few years I might use Tioga
pass more often. Oct is perhaps my favorite month driving over the top end of Yosemite. Less people and lots of color.

Tori Nelson
29-Sep-2009, 11:09
Thanks for all the advice you guys. I'm really looking forward to this trip and now I'm getting excited about the end of the trip as well; based on everything you guys have suggested , I think I'll take the 120 and just go with it. I'll get where I get when I get there. : - ) That's the best way to do these things anyway.

Thanks again!