High Sierra Mountain Fun!
CLOSED until May 2016
Take a leisurely drive down Highway 108, your path to winter fun. Nestled in one of the most scenic areas of the High Sierra, The Dardanelle Resort, known by many a traveler as "the place" to stop before heading off into the wilderness and your gateway to a winter wonderland.
Highway 108 is closed for the winter this time of year, so if you are planning a trip over Sonora Pass, you are out of luck. Highway 108 is closed from 26.4 miles East of Strawberry to 5.3 miles West of the junction of US 395 (Sonora Pass), for the winter, motorists are advised to use an alternate route.
Be sure to check road conditions and schedule a stop at Dardanelle. The folks at The Dardanelle Resort are ready for all you fun loving snow warriers. The coming snow promises to provide the best of winter conditions yet.
This is a wonderful time of year to plan a little weekend get-away. Winter is setting in, snow is falling and Highway 108 travelers will be greeted with a beautiful blanket of white snow. The weather can change quickly in the Sierra's this time of year, so be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes and make sure your vehicle is winter weather worthy.
This year-round photographer's paradise was first established in 1923 and operates under special use permit from USDA Stanislaus National Forest, just 54-miles due East of Sonora on Highway 108, along one of the most breathtaking stretches of highway found anywhere.
Last fall our family had the pleasure of stopping in for a visit, after a trip to the Carson City area. We were hungry so we stopped to rest our legs and grab a bite. We found the restaurant menu to be simple, consisting of a basic selection of hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, chicken and french fries. I chose a hot dog and fries, my son decided on the corn dog and fries. We were served an ample amount that neither of us were able to finish. We found them quite satisfying. The wait staff was delightful and readily on hand to meet our needs.
I wouldn't expect anything less on my next visit.
Many snowmobile enthusiasts make their way to The Dardanelle Resort during the winter months to enjoy full days on the miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Snowshoeing, cross county skiing and sledding are some of the favorite activities enjoyed during the winter months at Dardanelle's. If your family enjoys a good romp in the snow, spectacular surroundings and quiet solitude, it doesn't get any better than this.
Dardanelle's is a picture perfect response to the hustle and bustle of city life. A nature lovers paradise for those willing to brave the cold harsh elements in this blustery mountain community.
I was happy to learn I don't have to own a 4-wheel drive vehicle, I can simply drive to the Sno-park, park my vehicle, and they will drive everyone in my party to Dardanelle. Snowmobilers can park their vehicle and trailers and drive up in their snowmobile.
Every High Sierra camper knows that Dardanelle is the place to shop for those can't-do-without-it, forgotten items or for those unexpected needs. However, once winter arrives, everything must be brought in on the Sno-Cat, so all bets are off. You'll want to pack carefully and bring plenty of warm clothing. This unspoiled winter wonderland is the perfect get-away-from-it-all destination. You won't find a 5-star hotel, with valet and all the amenities. What you can expect is to meet many friendly faces and to enjoy the wonders of this pristine winter wonderland.
If your family enjoys a good romp in the snow, spectacular surroundings and quiet solitude, it doesn't get any better than this.
Giant pine tree shares bar area.
Note: Only vehicles with tracks are allowed past the Sno-park during the winter road closure, so be prepared to make the trip in your own snowmobile, on cross country skis, or make reservations to be picked up at the Sno-park.
I could go on an on about how remarkable The Dardanelle Resort is, but you really have to experience it first-hand. Words simply do not do this unique place justice. You should find the following information helpful in making your visit a special time to remember:
The so-called "Tree Hugger" set will be pleased to find that the bar was actually built around a gigantic tree. It was the neatest thing I've ever encountered. While it is very common in these parts to find many a deck built around a huge pine tree, this is a first for me. There is nothing like enjoying your favorite beverage and being that close to nature at the same time. What could be more perfect?
Plenty of winter activities are underway. Be sure to get your reservation in early. Cabins book up quickly. So, be sure to get away from it all and take in natures splendor this winter. You'll feel relaxed and refreshed in the great outdoors.
Snow on Sierra Pass
Sonora Pass in June
Sonora Pass is the second-highest highway pass in the Sierra Nevada range (elevation 9,624 ft.), Tioga Pass, to the south, being the highest (elevation 9,943 ft.).
The first documented settlers to navigate their way across Sonora Pass are said to have taken place during the late summer of 1852 by a wagon train known as the Clark-Skidmore Company. Subsequently, merchant interests in the communities of Sonora and Columbia promoted the route to California-bound pioneers, who were not always thrilled when they discovered just how difficult the pass was to maneuver.
The pass connects Sonora to the west with Bridgeport to the east. Like most high Sierra Nevada passes, the highway is closed during the winter months, generally between November and May, due to large amounts of snow accumulation, icy road conditions and hairpin turns.
The highway over the pass is extremely steep (up to 26% at some locations), 108 becomes narrow and winding between Kennedy Meadows on the west side and Leavitt Meadows on the east. The route is not recommended for vehicles hauling trailers or vehicle combinations that are unusually wide, heavy or long.
The majestic beauty, colorful rock formations, diverse wildlife, and the incredible ever changing display of foliage draws nature lovers to this area in droves. No matter the time of year you visit, it's not uncommon to find hikers, bikers, artists and the weary traveler milling about throughout this long stretch of highway. Each season brings it's own unique sights and sounds. It's easy to get lost in the moment.
Updated February 17, 2016