It’s official: Kaiser Pass Road to open Wednesday

One of the Sierra’s most spectacular roads — and some would say most hazardous¬†– opens for the season Wednesday, May 15.

MAREK WARSZAWSKI/THE FRESNO BEE
Three backpackers stop for a picture along the John Muir Trail between Silver Pass and Edison Lake in the Sierra National Forest.

For most of its 20-mile length from Huntington Lake in the Sierra National Forest, Kaiser Pass Road feels more like a goat path: 1 1/2 lanes wide, steep, winding, exposed and full of potholes. ¬†There are a few places where you pray some gargantuan RV towing a trailered boat isn’t coming the other direction. Because one of you has to back up to the nearest turnout. And, oh yeah, there’s a 1,000-foot drop just outside your window with no guardrail.

So why do I drive it so often every summer and fall? Because Kaiser Pass Road places you right in the heart of several prime Sierra destinations, many as uncrowded as the range has to offer. Just past the High Sierra Ranger Station, about 14 miles from Huntington Lake, the road splits. One fork leads to Edison Lake, passing Mono Hot Springs. The other leads to Florence Lake.

I can think of few places that rival Mono Hot Springs for a camping trip. You can fish from the South Fork of the San Joaquin River, go swimming in spring-fed Doris Lake (a singular delight) or hike to any number of places. All with the convenience of the Mono Hot Springs Resort and its cafe, store, lodgings and recently renovated bath house. (Free soaking is available on the other side of the river.)

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