The only paved road in Tuolumne County that leads into and out of Yosemite Valley reopened at noon Friday with chains required, according to National Park Service staff.
Big Oak Flat Road, which connects to Highway 120 west of Yosemite, sustained damage during recent storms and reopened with a single-lane section controlled by traffic lights.
The road, which descends from Crane Flat to the Merced River and Yosemite Valley, was closed by the NPS on Feb. 24 due to snow. The next day, the agency announced an indefinite closure of public access to the entire park due to heavy snow — as deep as 15 feet in places — and near-impassable roads in the Valley and at Hetch Hetchy.
The park remained closed until last Saturday, March 18, when authorities decided to reopen the Highway 140 El Portal entrance to Yosemite Valley, as well as Evergreen Road access to the Hetch Hetchy portion of the park in Tuolumne County.
Several miles of paved pedestrian paths in Yosemite Valley are plowed. The NPS was advising visitors to wear waterproof boots and traction devices, as even plowed paths can be icy.
All hiking trails in the Valley were covered by snow. Visitors are being urged to avoid hiking on snow-covered trails and to stay clear of creeks and rivers, which are running high, with snow banks in some locations that may collapse.
Trails to the Tuolumne and Merced groves of giant sequoias are covered in several feet of snow. Badger Pass and Glacier Point roads remained closed Friday until further notice.
Tioga Road, the continuation of Highway 120 through the park, remained closed.
Winter rangers at Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut celebrated the first day of spring on Monday, March 20, noting “it sure looks and feels like mid-winter out there.” Snow depths at Tuolumne Meadows exceeded 140 inches — more than 11-and-a-half feet deep — as of Tuesday this week.
On the south end of the park, the NPS intended to reopen the Highway 41 Wawona Road entrance at 5 p.m. Friday.
Wawona Road was also damaged during recent storms and was expected to reopen with a single-lane section controlled by traffic lights. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias south of Wawona will remain closed to pedestrians and vehicles for safety reasons.
For current road conditions in the park, call (209) 372-0200 then press 1 and 1. Day use