Lee Vining Comes To Life As Pass Opens

In Things to do, Travel

There was a write-up of one of my favorite “just outside of Yosemite” destinations n the L.A. Times. Lee Vining is a small town set at the foot of Tioga Pass where every morning is a view of towering peaks and beautiful Mono Lake. There’s lots to see and do there as well as campgrounds to stay in and EXCELLENT trout fishing. We usually camp in Lee Vining Canyon at one of the many campgrounds (less expensive) and make forays into the Park. Read the article and then next time you’re in the area, think about visiting Lee Vining. It’s a great little town.

LA Times: “The Sierra Nevada hamlet of Lee Vining always takes a long winter’s nap, but this year’s slumber was longer than most. The town woke up just this week.

As always, the awakening was marked by the opening of the Tioga Pass, the winding passageway motorists must take to get from Lee Vining, perched on the eastern flank of the Sierras, to the entrance of Yosemite National Park about 11 miles to the west.

The pass is closed by snow each winter and typically opens around Memorial Day.

But this year, with the snowpack at 180% of normal in some parts of the Sierra, the pass didn’t open until Thursday evening.

The mountains were gorgeous Friday with temperatures in the 70s, but the opening is more than just a seasonal marker. It’s also a kind of financial lifeboat for the town’s 400 permanent residents, many of whom depend on the money made from Yosemite-bound tourists in just a few short months to support themselves through harsh %u2014 and long %u2014 winters.

‘I would say this June, we’ve been 50% down because of the pass closing,’ said Arya Degenhardt, with the Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce. ‘And that’s an optimistic percentage%u2026. This affects restaurants, businesses, everybody, because this is a very visitor-oriented town.’

The Mono Market, on Lee Vining’s four-block main drag, is one of only a handful of businesses that remain open all year. On some winter days, the tiny market is the only place in town that sells hot food.

‘In the winter, to stay open is an act of charity,’ said owner Chris Lizza. ‘This winter, I lost five grand a month.’

No wonder many businesses here close down for the winter.”

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