Lembert Dome seen from the top
Puppy Dome is the name of a granite dome in the Tuolumne Meadows
area of Yosemite National Park
By Tuolumne Standards, Puppy Dome is one of the smallest domes in Yosemite National Park. Next to its big brother Lembert Dome
, this dome gets lost between huge pine trees. Most people are so awe-struck by the huge formations this area is so famous for that they walk right past Puppy Dome without realizing that this beautiful little dome is only two hundred feet away hiding in plain sight.
Puppy Dome may be small but you get an unobstructed view of Tuolumne Meadows from its top. Looking east, you get a view of Tioga Pass
and Mount Dana
. Looking west, you get a great view of Cathedral Peak
and Lembert Dome to the north. Getting to the top of Puppy Dome is done by walking on moderately-angled rock slabs of the east face. These slabs may seem easy and comfortable going up, but be sure to keep your head about you when descending. If you slip, you may not be able to stop yourself. Make sure to have proper shoes and test your ability to walk on these slabs by going up and down the first few feet before committing to the whole thing.
During the summer months the temperatures in Yosemite Valley, at an elevation of 4000 feet, get unbearably hot. These are the months that most Yosemite climbers escape to the cooler, higher altitude granite formations of Tuolumne Meadows. Puppy Dome, at an elevation of 8800 feet, offers several faces and routes for rock climbing as well bouldering. This is a great place for setting up top ropes on the west face of the dome and practicing a number of moderate routes. The upper tier of the west face, very similar to Western Front
in technical nature, offers face climbing on knobs typical to Tuolumne Meadows. The lower tier offers a number of easy to moderate cracks such as Puppy Crack
, 5.7, and Battle of The Bulge
, 5.8. For those looking for more difficult routes, they can find them on the south face of Puppy Dome. These routes are in the 5.10 to 5.11 difficulty range.
Ed topping out on Battle of The Bulge
How to get there
From Highway 395 in California take Highway 120 toward Tioga Pass and Yosemite Valley National Park. This is the eastern entrance to the park. Drive about six miles from the gate to the junction with Tuolumne Lodge. Turn left here and park. During the peak summer season you may need to get lucky to get a parking space. You can drive another half a mile up the road to Lembert Dome Parking lot. There are more spaces available in and around that parking lot.
There is a park ranger office and a bathroom at the Tuolumne Lodge parking. If you look directly south you will see some rocks across a meadow and behind some trees. Unfortunately, there are no established trail for these few hundred feet. Find a trail across the meadow that many climbers have used to get to the dome. Upon reaching the rocks, skirt right to get to the west face rock faces, or skirt left to get to the low angle slabs leading to the top.
There are many campgrounds in the Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass area. During the peak season, however, it’s possible that you end up driving from campground to campground looking for a campsite to no avail. It’s important to remember that you can always camp close to Tuolumne Meadows without being in the heart of it. There are a number of campgrounds along Highway 120, Tioga Pass Road, that can be used. There are also a number of camgrounds along Highway 395 and in the Mammoth Lakes area. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and the following links should help a little.
Tuolumne Meadows Camping
Saddle Bag Campground
The Sierra Web/Camping
Mono Lake Station- 760-647-3000
Rush Creek, Mammoth Lakes Station- 760-924-5500