Tioga Pass (Highway 120 through Yosemite National Park) is now closed for the season, due to hazardous driving conditions and snow accumulation at higher elevations. The road will remain closed throughout the winter months until weather conditions permit reopening in the spring. Tioga Pass typically reopens sometime in May or June.
‘Tioga Pass watch’ Category
“The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed the lower gate on State Route 120 West (Tioga Pass) to the Yosemite National Park entrance gate today, Tuesday, November 14th at 11:00 a.m. due to incoming inclement weather. This closure is in conjunction with the closure of the Yosemite National Park gate also closed at 11:00 a.m.
“The partial reopening of SR 120 West is dependent upon favorable weather. Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 West.”
Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will close tomorrow (Thursday, November 2) at 5:00pm due to an incoming winter storm. The closure will remain in effect through the weekend and road conditions will be assessed on Monday, November 6, 2017.
Tioga Road typically closes each fall and remains closed throughout the winter months. The road reopens when weather and road conditions permit in the spring. The average closing date for Tioga Road is November 3, so it is possible that the road could be closed for the season if the storm brings enough snow.
Caltrans has announced that Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will temporarily close this evening at 5:00pm at the lower gate due to incoming inclement weather. The road will be reevaluated on Friday.
Additionally, State Route 108 (Sonora Pass) will close from Kennedy Meadows to the east side winter closure gate (west of Pickel Meadows) at 3:00pm today. State Route 4 (Ebbetts Pass) will close from Lake Alpine to gate #3 (west of Silver Creek campground) at 9:00pm today.
Last Sunday, September 10, 132 runners and walkers challenged themselves to ascend the 12.4 miles of the Tioga Pass during this year’s annual Tioga Pass Run. This was another successful year for the epic event, where the participants start in front of the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining and finish at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, gaining 3,165 feet of elevation along the way to the top.
Kenny Palmer of Mammoth Lakes won the overall race this year with a time of 1:37:31. Jessica Francois, a Lee Vining local and (more…)
For the first time since at least as far back as 1983, Saddlebag Lake Reservoir on Lee Vining Creek is spilling. This is a rare event—and possibly a first—for the highest lake you can drive to in California.
Saddlebag Dam, at 10,090′ elevation, was built in 1921 to enlarge an existing alpine lake for hydropower generation purposes. The dam was raised and a spillway was added in 1925. The reservoir is oversized compared to the volume of water produced in its watershed, and given the agreement between Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), which requires it to be very low every spring. It is unclear if it has ever spilled before now. Last week it was inches away from its spillway, at the end of the day on Monday it was very full at 9,400 acre-feet of water, and on Tuesday it spilled! (more…)
Ever wonder about the carbon storing potential of Tuolumne Meadows? If you have, you’re not so different from our researcher for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Come listen to Lydia Baldwin present her research in Tuolumne Meadows on Wednesday August 9 at 4:00pm to learn more!
Wet meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada that were historically disturbed are currently losing both soil-water holding capacity and the ability to store carbon. These wetlands formerly functioned as sinks of carbon dioxide, but now they could act as significant contributors of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the maintenance and addition of carbon to soil can also enhance its capacity to hold water. This refreshing ‘ologist is testing whether the reestablishment of a sedge-dominated community at Tuolumne Meadows, a high-elevation wet meadow in Yosemite National Park, will restore the meadow to a carbon-accumulating ecosystem.
Join us to hear Lydia explain how she monitors gross primary production and plant respiration to create a model of growing season carbon dynamics to determine if these treatments increase the meadow’s carbon storage. Be ready to learn and ready to eat because admission and snacks are both free!
According to Yosemite National Park, Tioga Pass will open for the season to all vehicular traffic on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00am.
There will be minimal services available—no drinking water, gasoline, food, lodging, or cell phone service (911 emergency calls will not be operational). The Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center will be open from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Tamarack Flat is the only campground currently open along the Tioga Road, and it fills nearly every day on a first-come, first served basis.
For hikers and backpackers: “Anyone planning to hike or backpack near Tuolumne Meadows and in all high elevation areas of Yosemite should be prepared for winter hiking and camping conditions. Trails are still impacted by snow and ice. River crossings are high and swift moving. There are several high water areas currently impacting the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the John Muir Trail (JMT) in Yosemite National Park. Trail conditions may vary at any time.”
Cyclists and pedestrians may use the road tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28. Find the full text of the Yosemite press release here.
Well, I guess we know who will be winning our office Tioga Pass poll!
The question of the year so far is “When will Tioga Pass open?” Your guess is as good as ours. In fact, here’s the office poll—compare your guess to ours!
- Jess: June 16 soft opening; June 17 official
- Elin: June 23 at noon
- Bartshe: June 23
- Ellen: June 24
- Nora: June 26
- Gabby: June 27
- Greg: June 28 at noon
- Lisa: June 29
- Arya: June 30
- Andrew: June 30
- Geoff: July 1
- Julissa: July 6
At 9,945 feet above sea level, Tioga Pass is the highest point on Highway 120 and the California State Highway system. There are 26 avalanche zones that this year had snowdrifts upwards of 50 feet, often concealing rocks and trees. Once the road is clear of snow, crews must repair any damage to the pavement, shoulders, and guardrails. The latest Tioga Pass opening date was July 8, 1933, and the earliest was April 29, 1988 … we’re all wondering what it will be this year!
Updated on Tuesday, June 27 at 4:30pm to add that it looks like Lisa will be the winner, unless we get a strange summer snowstorm!
Caltrans will open the “lower gate” on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm.
The lower gate is located 3.5 miles west of Highway 395, and when it is open visitors and locals can access the high country near the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The park gate will remain closed; access to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond is still not possible by car.
The area of Tioga Pass around the park gate is still mostly snow-covered, lakes are covered in old unstable ice, and creeks and rivers are running very fast and cold, so be prepared for those conditions if you plan to recreate there once the lower gate is open.