Tioga Road, the name for a 56-mile stretch of Highway 120 inside Yosemite National Park, is going to open for through-traffic only on Friday, communications staff for federal custodians of the park announced Wednesday afternoon.
The plan means Tioga Road will be open to all vehicles, including bicycles, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
No parking will be allowed on Tioga Road and day-use recreation will not be permitted, spokespersons for park administrators said. There will be no visitor parking available at either end of the road closure.
Communications staff who put out the information Wednesday afternoon offered no explanation or context for the decision. They also did not respond to questions about their announcement. Mike Reynolds, the Yosemite National Park superintendent, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear if the park has ever opened Tioga Road for through-traffic only before. It was also was not clear whether park administrators asked for any public input on their decision.
The federal announcement put out Wednesday afternoon also did not say how long Tioga Road will be open for through-traffic only. The announcement also did not explain how the Park Service intends to enforce its new restrictions on parking and day-use recreation, or what kind of penalties violators could face.
Since 1980, the latest opening dates for Tioga Road June 29 in 2017, June 30 in 1995, and July 1 in 1998, according to the National Park Service.
Toilets will be available five miles east of Crane Flat Junction and at Tioga Pass, according to the Park Service. No other visitor services will be available on Tioga Road, park communications staff said. Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, Wilderness Center, and Tuolumne Meadows Campground are going to remain closed. Opening dates for Tuolumne Meadows facilities this summer have not been determined.
“Visitors are encouraged to plan their trips over Tioga Road in advance and to prepare for the restricted access and no access to visitor services,” park communications staff said in their announcement. “The road will remain closed outside of these times to allow for continued roadwork and snow clearing.”
Cyclists on Tioga Road will be required to finish their rides during daylight hours. Tioga Road will be closed to overnight camping.
The new plan may cause problems for backpackers. Park communications staff said Wednesday that backpackers will be able to be dropped off and picked up at trailheads along Tioga Road.
But backpackers and their drivers need to be aware of when the road is open and closed and plan their trip logistics accordingly.
“Any backpacker who misses the road open period will need to be prepared to spend an additional night in the wilderness,” park communications staff said. “All wilderness regulations will remain in effect.”
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