As everyone in California knows, it’s been a remarkable year for precipitation. At the highest elevations above Mono Lake in the vicinity of Tioga Pass, we may be facing a snowpack over 200% of average. April 1 snow surveys revealed nearby sites at all-time record snow depth and water content, while other sites, including Tioga Pass itself, fell just short of past record levels. Snow depth in the region likely moved upward with recent April storms, cold temperatures, and generally unsettled spring weather.
It will require a lot of time and effort to clear Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) through Yosemite National Park at the higher elevations. Avalanches, debris, large rocks, fallen trees, record snowpack, runoff, and road damage will slow the process. The effort will likely involve not only the National Park Service, but also Caltrans, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and Mono County road crews.
Work to clear the road officially began on April 14, and Caltrans also did some preliminary work clearing some of the large avalanches that have fallen across Highway 120 on the Mono Lake side of Tioga Pass.
Currently there is no estimated opening date, but based on past big snow years, it’s likely that the Tioga Pass Road will not open until sometime during the second half of June. The opening date depends on many variables, including how long snow keeps falling in the high country. Every year we hear fantastic rumors about when the pass might open, and no doubt the rumors, like the snowpack, will be at a record levels.