Tioga Pass into Yosemite opens Monday
Dry winter leads to early snowplowing
The famous "back way" into Yosemite National Park will open Monday, six weeks earlier than last year.
"The Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass) is closed due to snow. It will open for the season on Monday, May 7 at noon. (Yosemite Valley is accessible via Highway 120 from the west)," the National Park Service announced Wednesday.
The difference between 2011 and 2012 is snowfall. The 2011 opening was delayed by heavy winter storms that hit the region throughout winter and spring. This year has been mild, with the closing of Tioga Pass on Jan. 17 — the latest date in at least 30 years.
The opening will allow visitors to enter through the road that connects to Highway 395. The pass is at 9,943 feet above sea level, making it the highest road in California. There are 25 avalanche zones along the highway that must be rendered safe before vehicles are allowed to drive through.
While the road will be cleared, don't expect anything else to be open until you are well into Yosemite Valley. Campsites and other facilities in the high country remain closed. Drivers should watch out for ice on the road, as well as avalanches. Late snows have been known to temporarily close the road in past years.
To check conditions, go to nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tioga.htm or call 209-372-0200.