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        Any scary roads?
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Forum moderated by: mariposa1


My boyfriend and I will be staying in Mariposa for four nights beginning June 30, 2006. We’re taking Amtrak to Fresno and driving to Mariposa.

My boyfriend has asked me to find out what SR 41 / 49 from Fresno to Mariposa is like and what SR 140 from Mariposa to the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite is like.

Can someone please tell me if any sections of the roads are very steep or winding or narrow?

Are there any areas where there is a mountain on one side of the road and a sheer drop of several hundred feet down on the other side of the road?

If someone had a fear of heights and didn’t like driving on unfamiliar winding mountain roads that had a huge drop on one side with no place to pull over in case of an emergency, would there be any places between Fresno and Mariposa or between Mariposa and the Arch Rock entrance that such a person might consider to be scary?

Thanks very much for whatever advice and information you can provide.


Total Posts: 2 | Joined May 2006 | Posted on: 9:02 am on May 26, 2006 | IP

Hi Marlene. In a word, yes. You will be traveling from Fresno (at an elevation of about 300 feet) to Mariposa (about 2000 feet) to Yosemite (ranges in elevation from 4000 to nearly 10,000 feet depending on locale.)

Between Fresno and Oakhurst the only place that really seems to fit your criteria is a stretch of highway just before Oakhurst (and after the town of Coarsegold) that drops down the side of the mountain. It is curvy and has the massive, though beautiful, drop off on one side.  However, I believe there are one or two places where you could pull over.

Between Oakhurst and Mariposa, the road is nice with highway speeds all the way except for a few curves. (A rule of thumb for mountain driving: if there's a highway sign posted reducing speeds for a curve then heed it!!)  

Between Mariposa and Arch Rock is another story. You will proceed from Mariposa up Highway 140 and through the hamlet of Midpines (no problems here.)  But, you will notice on this leg of the journey that you are slowly climbing a bit. To be precise you're going up one side of a mountain. A little bit past Midpines you will have to go down the Bryceburg grade (the other side of the mountain) which is windy with a drop off. The ride is not that long in terms of distance but, I know from experience, that if the road intimidates you minutes seem like hours. Take your time going down the grade and stop at the bottom for a mental break. Most of the rest of the way to Arch Rock travels through the canyon along the Merced River which should be spectacular. The Merced River has been designated a "Wild and Scenic" river and you can often see river rafters on it.

Past the town of El Portal, there should be one other area near the Park entrance (and I can't remember if it's just before or after the entrance) that is winding and narrow with a drop off. There is no way to "fall off" as a stone traffic barrier has been built on the edge but there is also no place to pull off if you should so desire.  There is plenty of room for two-way traffic to proceed but, at times, it doesn't seem like it so be prepared as this short stretch can be harrowing - especially if you encounter a tour bus or large RV coming from the opposite direction.

Once inside the Park, roads will be fine on the Valley Floor. If you decide to go up to any of the higher elevations (like Tioga Pass) you may expect to find stretches of the same.

Take your time - stop as often as necessary - and try to enjoy the scenery. Snowpack is still good so the river should be awesome and the waterfalls should be spectacular!!

Total Posts: 25 | Joined N/A | Posted on: 5:35 am on May 28, 2006 | IP

Thanks very much for the information. We'll keep monitoring the situation with the rock slide near Bryceburg. Even if 140 is open by the time we arrive, I think we'll take the YARTS bus from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley on our first day in the park -- so we can observe the road while not having to worry about driving on it at the same time.


Total Posts: 2 | Joined May 2006 | Posted on: 5:12 pm on May 29, 2006 | IP

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