The picturesque Lee Vining Canyon borders the eastern edge of Yosemite. To drive the 12-mile scenic byway into the Inyo National Forest, start at Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Entrance and head east on Highway 120.
You will first pass by Tioga Lake. It’s a good chance to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and look out at the view. Then the road curves around switchbacks with canyon walls on one side, and views of multi-colored peaks jutting up from the canyon on the other.
After a leisurely 30-minutes, the byway ends at the junction of I-395.
Off the highway, there are many opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing and rafting. Side trips include the salty Mono Lake with odd-looking tufa formations, Mono Craters, and farther on down the road near Mammoth, Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Or you could just enjoy the scenic drive on your way to or from Yosemite.
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The Lee Vining Canyon Scenic Byway is closed in winter, and usually follows the road schedule of Tioga Pass in Yosemite.