Crane Flat is a store and gas station just inside Yosemite National Park at a junction where you can either go up the Tioga Pass Road or head towards the Yosemite Valley. Adjacent to the parking lot is a meadow that can be incredibly full of flowers. People looking in can see masses of white Corn Lily and yellow Coneflower, but if you walk in a short ways you will find that there is a wonderful variety of flowers.
If you are heading into the valley at Yosemite, or up the pass towards Tuolumne Meadows, you need to plan on spending some time here on your way past.
This year we didn’t even try to fight the traffic into Yosemite Valley. We stopped at Carlon Meadow, the Merced Grove, Crane Flat and headed up over Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadows and the eastern side of the Sierras. A wonderful trip!
There are some other pullouts and meadow vistas just a short way up Tioga Road from this point.
It can be crowded on the weekend. This is the last stop for gas until Tuolumne Meadow (and a store, and good bathrooms).
The meadow is RIGHT NEXT to the parking lot, no hiking needed.
Timing is Everything
The timing of flowers in the Yosemite area is highly dependent on the amount of snow in the prior Winter, as well as how warm (or wet) it is in the late Spring. This year was a heavy snow year and a relatively wet Spring, so everything was delayed by at least several weeks. We visited this area in early August, and the Crane Flat meadow was at it’s peak.
I want to thank Ron Wolf (extraordinary naturalist and photographer) and Sandy Steinman (and his wonderful blog) for pointing out this wonderful spot.
Crane Flat is on Highway 120, coming in the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park. The gas station is a great place to fill up before you go up Tioga Pass or get into Yosemite Valley, with great restrooms and a small store. Note that if you are heading towards Yosemite Valley the store is a bit off the main road – it is a very short way up on the Tioga Pass road. If you have time to stay in the area there are several meadows just a bit further up the Tioga Pass road that are worth looking at.
Just past Crane Flat on the Tioga Pass road you will also find the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoia’s, with roughly a 3 mile round trip hike. If you haven’t seen the Sequoia’s, you shouldn’t miss this chance.
Crane Flat Wildflowers
If you click on the lightbox image below you will see larger versions of the photos, and you can scroll through all of the plants (and other things) that we found on this hike. All photos are available for purchase in a variety of formats.
NSY #5 looks like Horsemint.
NSY #4 is some Epilobium species.
NSY #3 is Sidalcea reptans, I think.
Thank you, Tom. I think you are right. I can’t pin down the species on the Epilobium from the pictures I took.
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