Caltrans recently gave updates on clearing 9,943′ Tioga Pass in California and is still unable to estimate an opening date. The opening of the popular route through Yosemite National Park’s high country has been delayed due to historic snowfall during the winter.
“One lane is plowed the length of Tioga Road to Tioga Pass. Crews continue to clear snow from the roadway and shoulders. In addition, crews are conducting minor repairs, mitigating hazard trees, and performing other tasks necessary to prepare the Tioga Road for public access.
The avalanche hazard at Olmsted Point is declining due to the recent warm temperatures melting the heavy snow and ice. We are working to repair road damage at Olmsted Point, 10 miles west of Olmsted Point, and near Tamarack Flat Campground.
Park crews continue to make extensive repairs to employee housing, work areas, and visitor facilities. In order to protect public health, water quality, and other park resources, sanitation facilities must be available before the Tioga Road can open to the public. The park is contracting for pumping of vault toilets along the Tioga Road corridor and for potable toilets in employee housing and work areas. There is no estimated opening date for the Tioga Road.
In some years, Tioga Road opens to cyclists for a day or a few days prior to the road opening to vehicles. If this occurs this year, that update will appear here.”
– Caltrans District 9
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. There is no way to provide a more precise estimate for this year. 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.
According to KQED, the last time the road remained closed this late in the season was in 1938. The 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.