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Have you ever seen the movie Space Balls? There’s a scene where a spaceship goes so fast that they go to “Plaid.” I imagine people in a rush to a national park doing just that. Racing to wait at an attraction entrance or to sit in traffic. As the old saying goes, “Make the journey the reward and not just the final destination.” And to help, here’s a few roadside attractions in California High Sierra that you can enjoy on your way to the stars of the High Sierra.

Yosemite National Park

The Talking Bear

Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

Just a few miles before to the southern gate of Yosemite National Park in the town of Oakhurst lies a dormant bear ready to be awakened by a stranger. Not a REAL one, but a replica of a California Golden Bear statue that talks to you. Situated at the corner of Highway 41 & Road 426, this famous icon has welcomed guests for over half a century. We won’t tell you what he says… you’ll have to stop and see for yourself. For more one-of-a kind attractions that kids and adults will enjoy, be sure to read their article Experience ‘KID’ifornia in Madera County and Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Climbing Museum

Exterior Yosemite Climbing Association Museum
Exterior of Yosemite Climbing Museum – Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

If you’re entering the Arch Rock Entrance then you’re in for a treat. On your way through Mariposa, be sure a stop at the Yosemite Climbing Association Gallery and Museum. A passion project of legendary climber and founder Ken Yager, this museum has been decades in the making. It showcases the rich history of Yosemite’s rock climbing. From the 1st ascent of Half Dome to Yosemite’s big walls, you’ll come away with so much more appreciation of what you’re about to see within the confines of the National Park. His collection of memorabilia is jaw-dropping. It may only be surpassed by the stories you’ll hear from Ken himself.

Roller Coaster Road

Highway 120 is known as the eastern entrance into the high country of Yosemite National Park. At over 10,000 feet, Tioga Pass is the highest paved road in California and the Sierra Nevada. What many don’t know is if you continue east past US-395, you’ll come up to a California roadside attraction that’s an actual road! About six miles east of Lee Vining, this segment is nicknamed the “Roller Coaster Road.” This lonely stretch of road is home to an active earthquake site which has created whoop-de-doo’s that’ll make you giggle like a little kid. Be aware that we suggest taking it easy. If you do end up breaking something, you’ll be miles from any cell service.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Farm Stands

farm stand near Visalia California
Photo by: Local Freshies

If you want to talk about the epitome of roadside attractions California has to offer, this might be the one. The surrounding area of Visalia is nicknamed the “World’s Fruit Basket.” As you zip on down Highway 198, you’ll find a variety of fruit stands. We’re not talking any plain ‘ole ones either. The Central Valley is one of the most diverse growing regions in the world. If you stop at any of these, you’ll find a host of fruits and treats to enjoy. Things you may have never heard of like a Cara Cara navel. A good place to start is by visiting Visit Visalia’s article Discover Food Trucks and Roadside Eats page. Or better yet, stop by their visitor center and pick up the farmer’s map of the region.

As you can see, no matter which road you take into a National Park, each one is unique with its roadside attractions California. In the end, you’ll appreciate the journey that much more.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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