Old Priest Grade Road Photos – Scenic & Dangerous

While technically the stretch of SR120 through the foothills is called “New Priest Grade Road”, nothing beats the original. In fact, it may just be the steepest, most treacherous road you ever drive! Haha…I’m a sucker for adventure. Anyhow, this route can save quite a bit of time and aggravation. Here are my photos of “Old Priest Grade Road”.

Windy turns while driving Old Priest Grade Road
You can beat the weekend tourist traffic

Although this shortcut is a well-kept secret, you should only attempt to drive it if you have a reliable car. Functional brakes are a must. RVs and large trucks are prohibited – they have to shut the road down for hours while they remove such stuck vehicles.

Overheating is quite common on this steep grade in the summertime. In fact, it’s so common that officials regularly stash jugs of water at the turnouts.

Old Priest Grade Road – Views & Vistas

Street View at sunset - Old Priest Grade Road photos
Street View – Old Priest Grade Road

Though it may be dangerous, it’s also beautiful. I found a side road turnout here with stunning sunset views of the foothills. You’ll note Don Pedro Reservoir in the photo below as well.

Sunset Views on Old Priest Grade Road
Sunburst sunset over Sierra foothills

While taking this route is still quite windy and slow, it probably shaves off half the time and sharp turns. The new version is less steep, but as far as I know, it’s 5 miles as opposed to 2. You’re often likely to get stuck behind a large RV just crawling up the road, too.

If your car is in good shape (and you have the confidence), be like the locals. Give Old Priest Grade a shot. The turn will be on your right, just after you reach Moccasin (and before the road starts to wind and climb).

For related pictures, check out my Don Pedro Lake and Groveland albums. Also more destinations nearby Yosemite.

Looking for lodging? Check out my Yosemite Hotels page.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.