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California is home to A LOT of famous bridges. For most, the first that comes to mind is the Golden Gate Bridge. But, there’s much more to the state’s bridges than these types of monstrosities. Although they might be a bit more subdued, these unique bridges of California High Sierra are just as interesting to see.

Clover Creek Bridge (Sequoia)

Year Built: 1930-31

Clover Creek Bridge in Sequoia National Park
Image from: Historic American Engineering Record (Library Of Congress)

With the introduction of cars providing many Americans a way to greater explore this country, concerns for road conditions arose. This is also about the time when the idea was sparked to build a road connecting Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The road was dedicated in 1935 as the Generals Highway and multiplied the visitation between the two parks. Approximately 22 miles northeast of the Ash Mountain Entrance, you’ll find another great example of a bridge built in the “Parkitecture” style. The exterior is a stone masonry façade, designed to become one with its environment instead of a sore thumb. And a bit further down the Generals Highway, you’ll also find another example of this style with the Lodgepole Bridge. The design inspiration for these bridges was the Westchester County, New York parkway system, which included the Bronx River & Hutchinson River parkways.

Stoneman Bridge (Yosemite)

Year Built: 1933

Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite Valley is a good example of one of the unique California bridges
By Brian C. Grogan, photographer, Historic American Engineering Record – Wikimedia Commons

Within the legendary Yosemite Valley, there are group of eight bridges that cross over the Merced River and other feeder creeks called the “Yosemite Valley Bridges.” Five of these were built in 1928 and the remainder between 1921 & 1933. Each of them embraces their natural environment by being built in the Rustic Style. The one that really hits it out of the park though (at least to us) is the Stoneman Bridge. Built last out of the group in 1933, to really capture its splendor you must head down onto the river’s shore. From there, you’ll see its beauty with Half Dome looming above majestically.

Donner Memorial Bridge (Truckee)

Year Built: 1923-24

Rainbow Bridge Truckee California Best sunset in Highs Sierra
Photo by: Troy Corliss & Keith Hartman 2018 – Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe

Out of our list, the Rainbow Bridge as some like to call it, is one of the most unique bridges of California High Sierra. Due to its odd location, angle of slope, and curvature, the engineers of the state of California had a lot to deal with to make this bridge happen. At that time, the only way to get to Truckee was the old steep winding route of the Lincoln Highway. Unfortunately, it proved too difficult for any larger vehicles. So, a new route Old Highway 40 was built including this bridge. Interesting fact: For the first few years, it was impassible during the winter due to not being plowed. That changed in 1931. Although it may not be the biggest or longest, it has the most beautiful scenery alongside its unique curve & grade.  

Wawona Covered Bridge (Yosemite)

Year Built: 1857

Wawona Covered Bridge
National Park Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Before Yosemite was even a National Park, visitors still came to see its beauty. To gain access to Yosemite Valley, our list’s oldest bridge was built by Galen Clark in 1857 & covered in 1879. To this day, it is one of twelve remaining covered bridges in California. Although the road was rerouted in 1931, you can still get a glimpse of the area’s past by visiting Wawona. If you want to learn more about the history of Wawona and how it got its name, be sure to read Visit Yosemite | Madera County’s article: Yosemite Place Names: The Origin And History Of Names In Yosemite National Park.

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 https://localfreshies.com



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