California State Highway 108


What? : State Route 108, not only connecting the central valley with the eastern sierra but it is a cynic drive destination by itself. National forest, sierra mountain peaks, summer lakes and wilderness as well as the 9,624-foot Sonora Pass, the second highest Sierra pass highway in California, as others many viewing points and things to do along the road.


Where? : 80 mile road, around 1.5 hour drive without stop, connecting Sonora town at the west side to highway 395 at Sonora Junction at the east side.

Google Map Link


When? : Road close to pass east west during winter.


Due note 1: The road is usually closed from November to late May due to snow. Before taking this road, please check first for road opening and driving conditions.


Due note 2: From Dardanelles to Sonora Pass, the road climbs 4,000 feet in 15 miles and the grade can reach 25 percent, this road is not recommended for RV’s.


Due note 3: This remote area has no cell phone service.


Due note 4: There are many campground options along the highway, in the upper section most campgrounds are just near the road, they do not have water, restrooms or trash service.


My thoughts: I drove this highway several time as my way to reach eastern central Sierra, but I always did short stops along my drive to discover some of the local attraction and enjoy the beauty this highway has to offer. Just driving this cynic highway is a destination by itself.


The road trip:

Highway 108 runs from Sonora town at the outskirts of California Central Valley at the west side across the Sierra Nevada via the Sonora Pass and connect to Highway 395 at Sonora Junction at its east side.


Along the Highway 108 corridor you can find magnificent vistas, trails, lakes, rivers with endless opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, boating and rafting, fishing, horseback riding and winter sports. For many this is their vacation destination, for my I mainly stop at few places along the road on my way to/from the eastern sierra.


Below list state the main attraction you can find along the road, ordered from west to east.


Pinecrest Lake:

Did not visit here yet...
Pinecrest Lake is well known for great fishing and boating, a large marina and free boat launching ramp, a fishing dock, sandy beaches for relaxing and swimming.
For hikers there is a trail circling the lake, Pinecrest Lake National Recreation Trail. From the far end of the lake, you can take a side trail and reach Cleo's Bath. The Strawberry Dam is on the north side of the lake and the trail surrounding the lake will go through it.


Donnell Vista:

43.3 miles from East Sonora intersection (or 15.2 miles from Strawberry Inn) you will turn left into the small viewpoint parking area, from here a short paved trails will take you to the Donnells Reservoir overview, far below in gorge. With the surrounding granite walls, the lake deep blue water and island it is probably one of the prettiest lakes viewing point in the sierra. This can be a 15 min stop or a lunch-break location in the middle of your drive.


Columns of Giants:

The 1.5 miles east of Dardanelle Resort trail provides an easy quarter mile walk to an unusual geologic formation with views of basalt columns, reminiscent of the Devil's Postpile near Mammoth-Lake.


Kennedy Meadows:

54 miles from East Sonora intersection you will see a right turn that will take you to Kennedy Meadows. There is a small hotel, store (I think) and few campgrounds. This is the starting point for hikes that will take you into the Stanislaus National Forest.


Sierra Nevada Vista Point:

A band in the road in the middle of the climb with clear option to stop on the side of the road, offer excellent viewing point on the gorge below and surrounding mountain pikes above.


Pacific Crest Trail - Sonora Pass:

9,624-foot Sonora Pass, the second highest Sierra pass highway in California. The views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the east side and Sonora Peak is a must stop location at this pass. You can stop on the pass itself (on the side of the road or better get into the side road (just west of the pass), have a picnic in the picnic area and enjoy the view.


Leavitt Falls Vista Point:

If you are coming from the west down from Sonora pass Just before reaching Leavitt Meadows horse-station you will see a small turnout to your right.

Leavitt Falls Vista Point is a great place to stop and enjoy the surrounding scenery of the valley below and the Leavitt Fall from the observation deck. Well worth a a short stop on your drive.


Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center:

A large base on the roadside, many times you can see the Marine unite train in the nearby mountains. Nothing to see, just wanted to mention this if you were wondering about this base.


Sonora Bridge Meadow Picnic Site:

Not a lot to do here, an option for a short stop near the river after the long ride.