Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Tuolumne Gas Station Will Close for Upgrades

From a West Coast Imaging blog report:

Tuolumne Gas Station Closed For Upgrades Beginning Monday, 9/8, the Tuolumne Gas Station will be temporarily closed for vapor recovery and dispenser upgrades. Fuel will not be available from 9/8 until 9/29. The sport shop will remain open for business and propane will still be available through 9/21, daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Fuel is still available at Crane Flat Station 24 hrs/day. (NPS Press Release)

I virtually never buy gas there anyway, but this is good to keep in mind if you aren’t one to watch the gas gauge carefully. Since I most often come in from the west side I usually tank up in Oakdale or possibly near Groveland on the way up – prices are a lot lower there than inside the park. If I’m coming up from the east side I usually try to get gas in Bishop – again, considerably lower prices here – or possibly Mammoth if I have a reason to go up there.

The gas prices in Lee Vining are notoriously high – generally among the very worst prices in the eastern Sierra – so I avoid purchasing gas there if at all possible. (Though a stop at the Mobil station at the junction of Tioga Pass Road and Highway 395 is worth it for the food. Really. Get the fish tacos. That’s all I’ll say.)


September 5, 2008 - Posted by | Commentary, News, Places, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite


  1. Hi Dan, great tip on gasoline prices. I’ll avoid filling up in Lee Vining if I can. But I will be pigging out at the Whoa Nellie Deli and I think that is the place you mean. I ate there last year and the food was great! Affordable, tasty, and plenty of it. And though I didn’t try the fish taco’s last year, my photographer friend Dan Sniffin told me I have to have one for him this time around. I gather they are great!

    Comment by cynthialeeder | September 6, 2008

  2. The fish tacos are not only great, but they have become almost famous among eastern Sierra travelers!

    Comment by Dan Mitchell | September 9, 2008

  3. Dan, do you have favorite locations in the Eastern Sierras to photograph? I would be interested to know since that is the purpose of my coming vacation there. As I mentioned before I plan to photograph Mono Lake at sunrise and sunset. I plan to photograph the aspens around June Lake and some other areas. I plan to photograph some shaded streams at mid-day for abstracts and color. I plan to photograph Convict Lake at sunrise. I plan to photograph the Alabama hills at sunrise. I probaby won’t go to Bodie. I am interested in places you may have found though. Thanks!

    Comment by cynthialeeder | September 9, 2008

  4. Cynthia… where to start? ;-)

    Let me describe a couple things I do when chasing aspens – the first a totally nuts one day marathon, and the second a more reasonable weekend.

    When the aspens turn, you don’t get much time to wait around. Sometimes when it happens I cannot get a full weekend away – or perhaps I want to go up there twice – so I frequently do a one-day marathon. In the broad outline it goes something like this:

    I get up very early – early enough that I’ll be at the Sierra crest perhaps an hour after dawn. My usual route takes me up highway 88 toward Carson Pass. There are a few good stands well before the pass, but the really good ones are in the area after you pass the Kirkwood ski area. Near the pass there can be some quite extensive stands.

    A bigger treat lies on the other side of the pass in Hope Valley. (Though I don’t know yet whether or not the recent fire there affected the aspens – it couldn’t have affected all of them though.) There are some wonderful stands visible as soon as you cross the pass, but you’ll pass through more as you head down the valley. One nice feature is that they don’t all come into form at the same time, so the show here can last a while. There is one truly wonderful stand right alongside the road down near Sorenson’s Resort, just past the turnoff to South Lake Tahoe.

    From here I head on to Markleeville. There can be some color on the way to Markleeville, but it is spars for the most part. I pass through Markleeveill and head up the road toward the turnoff to Monitor Pass. (Along the way you may see a few small colorful stands, but unless they are astonishing, keep going.) Once you begin the climb to Monitor you’ll see more and more aspens. The road goes right be a few intense stands (if you time it right) near the bottom of the climb but it gets better the higher you go. Near the top you pass through a huge aspen forest that often gets wonderful morning and evening light, being near the summit. (I feel that this stand comes into form a bit earlier than some of the others further south.)

    After descending this pass I start south on highway 395. There are a lot of places where you’ll see aspens -but not too much until you get to near the turnoff to Sonora Pass. Basically, once in this area and south I more or less go where I see color, so I won’t try to describe the gory details. Eventually you’ll get to Conway Summit, the high point before the road drops down to Lee Vining. To the east of the roadway here you’ll often see some stunning stands of aspens in various shades of yellow, gold, red, and orange. I like to shoot this spot in the late afternoon when it is backlit by the sun before it drops behind the crest. You can also turn west at Conway summit and ascend to find more aspens, though these often seem to lose their color a bit early.

    Descending from Conway Summit you’ll eventually come to to road to Lundy Canyon. Many great aspen color photographs have been made here, though the road gets a little bit dicey high up in the canyon.

    Finally – not doubt after stopping in Lee Vining for coffee (at Latte da’) and food (the Mobil Station at highway 120) I head up highway 120 to see the great aspen groves in Lee Vining Canyon. You’ll certainly spot them to the left of the road, so turn off from 120 and get on the small road going up the canyon. This spot often seems to hold color a bit later than some of the others.

    The rest of the drive through Yosemite is largely aspen free, so I usually plan to do this last part of the marathon after dark.


    A short list of some other great places if you have time to go further south: the June Lake Loop, Convict Lake if you hit it just right, and a real “gold mine” if you head up toward Sabrina, North, and South Lakes and Aspendell (that name should be a hint) from Bishop.


    Comment by Dan Mitchell | September 9, 2008

  5. Hi Dan, This is a huge help! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!! :-)

    And now I hope nature does the rest and that there will be great color in some of these spots when I get there. And then I hope this time I come away with the pictures I wanted to take last year and didn’t get. But photography is a learning process and takes practice and this should be a great chance to do just that. And I can’t wait! Thank you!!!!

    Comment by cynthialeeder | September 9, 2008

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