2017 High Sierra Access Passes & Transportation
Currently it is unknown when the following roads will be open to cars. All access roads from Kennedy Meadows to Sonora Pass listed here, south to north from Kennedy Meadows. Check back as I will update this as I know more for 2017.
Sherman Pass Road – Access from Kennedy Meadows to Highway 395 near Pearsonville, where the local transit can be caught M-W-F by calling ahead and requesting a stop. Usually open by late May, that might be different this year.
Horseshoe Meadows Road – Access to Lone Pine, severely damaged by a rock slide. No known open date. No cars means a 15 mile walk at least until you have fair hitching opportunities, if walking is allowed through the closure. Locals hope this will be open sometime in July.
Whitney Portal Road – Access to Lone Pine. Currently OPEN, as of April 28.
Onion Valley Road (to Kearsarge) – Access to Independence. OPEN as of April 28.
(Other passes such as Shepherd and Taboose will be very difficult to cross and will drop hikers near the middle of nowhere. I have hiked them and I do not recommend them except in non-snowy conditions.)
Highway 168 (to Lake Sabrina/Bishop Pass) – Access to Bishop. Check status, currently closed)
Highway 120 / Tioga Pass – Access from Yosemite/Tuolumne to Lee Vining and Highway 395 via Yarts bus or hitch. Check status here.
Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) – Access to Bridgeport and Highway 395. Check pass status, currently closed
These are all roads that PCT, SHR (Sierra High Route), HST (High Sierra Trail),and JMT (John Muir Trail) hikers use frequently to connect footsteps and resupply in the High Sierra. Some of these roads are under 10-20 feet of snow, some of them have rock slide damage or both. Please keep this in mind when planning your Sierra hike. I am less familiar with passes north of this but do know that the Tahoe area has been hit very hard by snow as well. Prepare for at least 400 miles of snowy walking in 2017 (that’s just talking the Sierra, other sections of the PCT are snowy as well).
The East Sierra is largely a tourism economy and will be hit pretty hard by the snow and water — as well as the current administration’s travel policies — this year. If a local offers to shuttle you, don’t assume it’s a hitch, and don’t bitch if they try to charge you. It’s very expensive and hard on a car to make trips up and down these hills between 3000′ and 9000′. Also, you probably will smell much worse than you realize (that’s the most frequent comment from locals). Take pity, clean up, be realistic, and expect to pay $30-100 depending on your trip and how many people are in the car.
These guys will know road conditions better than most folks, cuz it’s their business to drive!
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority
East Side Sierra Shuttle (licensed)
Lone Pine Chamber can help arrange shuttles – best to call in advance
Sierra Shuttle Service (out of the Mammoth area)
The PCTA provides more information about High Sierra area transportation.