[UPDATE] 9,943′ Tioga Pass, CA, Now Open From East to Yosemite Entrance | Latest Opening in Over a Century

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State Route 120 is open now, but Yosemite National Park remains closed. | Picture: Caltrans District 9 Twitter

On Thursday, July 13th, Caltrans District 9 opened State Route 120 Tioga Pass for the summer. The road was opened between Lee Vining and the eastern entrance to Yosemite Park at the pass’s summit, offering access to campgrounds, trails, and backcountry skiing. However, the park entrance remains closed at this time, and vehicles will not be able to drive into the park from the Mono County side. 

Tioga Road, the continuation of Highway 120 through the park, is closed due to snow. There is no estimated opening date, although it is hoped the road will open by the end of July.

“ATTN DRIVERS: State Route 120 W is now open between Lee Vining and the eastern entrance to @yosemitenps. The park entrance remains closed at this time, and drivers will not be able to enter the park from the Mono County side.”

Caltrans 9

However, over the weekend, Yosemite NPS posted an update on the progress of Tioga Road. Although the road is now clear of snow, repairs and the removal of debris still need to be completed.

Tioga Road is clear of snow all the way to Tioga Pass; however, Tioga Road will not open this weekend. We are optimistic it will open before the end of the July.

The following work is in progress:
-Clearing snow from side roads and parking lots, and boulders from Tioga Road
-Removing trees in danger of falling onto the road.
-Extensive repairs and hantavirus inspections to buildings.

When the road opens to the public, expect short delays due to traffic lights at damaged locations, and longer delays when contractors are making repairs.

Utility crews discovered a torn line at the sewage ponds. The wastewater treatment plant cannot operate until the liner is repaired and groundwater level lowers. The park is contracting for portable toilets and pumping of vault toilets. Tioga Road will open when sanitation and public safety requirements are met.

Yosemite NPS

The opening of the popular route through Yosemite National Park’s high country had been delayed due to historic snowfall during the winter. According to KQED the pass has only opened later three times before—July 19th, 1917, and July 15th in 1916 and 1921.

Snow clearing efforts at Yosemite National Park. | Picture: National Park Services

Yosemite had a record snowpack (over 240% of the average) as of April 1st, 2023. In the previous snowiest years, Tioga Road opened in late June or early July. Tioga Road is typically open to vehicles from late May or June until sometime in November. Plowing usually begins around April 15th. Since 1980, the road has only opened in July twice, on July 1st in 1998 and 2019. The average opening date is May 28th.

Snow and ice buried the road and caused significant damage to sections of the 46-mile route and adjacent facilities. Crews have worked tirelessly to clear the road using plows, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment. Once rock clearing is complete, they will repair and replace damaged guardrails. Avalanche-prone areas have also been cleared, although one section near Olmsted Point will require temporary stoplights due to avalanche damage—additionally, restrooms, staff housing, and other facilities damaged during the winter need assessment and repair.

In the meantime, visitors to Yosemite National Park can access the park through alternative routes, including Highway 120/Big Oak Flat Road, Highway 140, and Highway 41. However, heavy traffic and limited parking space in Yosemite Valley have sometimes caused delays and closures, so visitors are advised to check the park’s Current Conditions page for the latest information.

Tioga & Sonora passes have some of the best backcountry skiing in North America in the springtime.

Map showing locations of Tioga, Sonora, Ebbetts, and Monitor passes in California.

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