Caltrans crews have opened Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 in Alpine County, restoring a key spring and summer tourism route for Calaveras County residents and visitors.

The state Department of Transportation declared Ebbetts Pass and Highway 4’s National Scenic Byway open at noon Friday.

Ebbetts Pass at 8,730 feet is one of the highest passes in the Sierra Nevada. It’s more than 800 feet lower than 9,624-foot Sonora Pass, but it has steeper grades than Sonora Pass, according to Caltrans staff.

Even with low volumes of snow, Ebbetts Pass and Sonora Pass require closing each winter season.

Visitor services are scarce and cell phone service is limited on the highest elevations of Ebbetts Pass and Highway 4. People can buy gasoline in Bear Valley on the west side of the pass, and in Markleeville on the east side.

Visitors are advised to carry extra food, water and clothing. Maps and information can be found at the Calaveras County Visitors Bureau in Angels Camp and at the Alpine County Visitors Bureau in Markleeville.

Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park remains closed to 9,943-foot Tioga Pass, the highest paved route over the Sierra Nevada range. Caltrans crews on the Eastside Sierra in Mono County have opened the 12 miles of Highway 120 between U.S. 395 and the east entrance to Yosemite.

The east entrance to Yosemite at Tioga Pass remains closed. As of Thursday this week, communications staff in Yosemite said Tioga Road, the park’s name for Highway 120, is plowed and side roads still have snow on them.

“Crews are working to remove hazard trees, rocks, and other debris along the road corridor,” park communications staff said. “There is no estimated opening date for the Tioga Road.”

Tioga Pass on Highway 120 has been closed since Nov. 29. Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 had been closed since Nov. 30. Sonora Pass on Highway 108, which opened Thursday, had been closed since Nov. 21.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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