Each winter Yosemite National Park closes Tioga Road due to snow accumulation—from the Tuolumne Grove east of Crane Flats all the way to the Tioga Pass Entrance Station near Lee Vining. Today, park officials announced, the road has reopened for the season, allowing visitors to cross the width of the park and access some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

In other words, summer has arrived.

"Tioga Road's opening is the official start of summer for Yosemite hikers, climbers, and sightseers," says Ann Marie Brown, author of the definitive handbook, Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon. "The store, lodge, and campground are still closed for a few more weeks, but visitors can drive across breathtaking Tioga Pass, the Sierra's highest highway pass at 9,943 feet, which connects Yosemite Valley to the eastern Sierra and Mammoth Lakes."

Tioga Road provides easy access to both the Porcupine Flat and White Wolf campgrounds. It follows the Tuolumne River for a long, lovely stretch and also takes you right to the serene and idyllic Tenaya Lake

Brown offers a few more tips for travelers now that the road has reopened: "Stop at Olmsted Point for awesome views of Half Dome and Clouds Rest, Tuolumne Meadows to see the snowmelt-swollen river, and Tenaya Lake to dip your toes in brisk alpine waters. Then drop down the east side for lunch in Lee Vining at the Whoa Nellie Deli."