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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway opens for the season

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, a 100-mile journey through the Sierra National Forest adjacent to Yosemite National Park, has opened for the season.

While not as well-known as its National Park neighbor, the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway offers many similar types of sweeping vistas as Yosemite.

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“The Byway is often referred to as a ‘secret Yosemite’ because there are a lot of similar views,” said Jarrod Lyman with the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.

The YSVB promotes Madera County, which encompasses the byway as well as the Southern Entrance in to Yosemite.

“The Byway gives guests the chance to take in some truly amazing scenery with far fewer people than they would see in Yosemite. A lot of people like that opportunity,” he said.

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway starts in North Fork, the exact geographic center of California. Guests experience elevation changes from 3000 feet to points above 7000 feet as they explore various ecosystems along the way.

There are historical points of interest, such as the Jesse Ross Cabin which was built in the 1800’s and still stands today, scenic overlooks like Mile High Overlook or the Fresno Dome Overlook and odd rock formations such as Arch Rock and Globe Rock. There is even an old general store located at Beasore Meadow which has been in operation since the 1800’s.

“The Jones Store is such a popular stop for people along the byway. It’s like stepping back in time, they have no electricity, no phone service, yet still are famous for delicious hamburgers and pie,” Lyman said.
“The store has an amazing history, and the owner, Vern Black, who was a bomber pilot in World War II and has run the store for over 50 years, can tell some amazing stories of life in the region many years ago,” he said.

The byway is maintained by the National Forest Service. While the warm spring and less-than-average snowfall this winter mean an early opening, travelers are still encouraged to call 559-877-2218 for road conditions.
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