Driving the historic road to Walker Pass in California

Walker Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.603m (5,259ft) above the sea level, located in northeastern Kern County, in the U.S. state of California.

Walker Pass

Can you drive through Walker Pass in California?

The now busy road to the summit, also known as Walker's Pass, is fully paved. It’s called California State Route 178 (State Route 178/CA-178). At this elevation, it’s the highest point on this narrow, twisting two lane road for most its entire length through the Sierras.

How long is Walker Pass?

Stretching 31.22km (19.4 miles) from Canebrake to Freeman Village, Walker Pass serves as a connector between the San Joaquin Valley to the west and the Mojave Desert to the east.

Is Walker Pass open?

Situated in the southern Sierra Nevada, the pass is typically accessible year-round. However, it might face temporary closures during winter due to adverse weather conditions. Given its relatively lower elevation, these closures are often brief. Rockfalls can also prompt closures, with rock slides and falling rocks presenting hazards throughout the year.

Historical Significance

The pass owes its name to Joseph R. Walker, a seasoned mountain man and scout from the Bonneville Expedition. In 1834, guided by information from Native Americans, Walker utilized the pass as a pathway through the Sierra. He later led an immigrant wagon train through the same pass in 1843. John C. Fremont's military survey expedition in 1845 also traversed this pass, and it was Fremont who recommended naming it in honor of Walker. During the 1848–1855 Gold Rush, Walker’s Pass became a vital route ushering countless pioneers into California.