California holds some of the best spring backcountry skiing and riding in North America and that terrain can be made very accessible via our high mountain passes (10,000′ passes) being open and clear of snow. Clearing that snow this record winter is no easy task. Each of these passes listed below say over 200% of average snowfall this winter.
9,943′ Tioga Pass, 9,624′ Sonora Pass, and 8,736′ Ebbetts Pass are all still closed due to towering snowpacks up to 15′ deep. Crews are currently working on opening these highways and here is the latest information on when they estimate these California mountain passes to open.
Additionally, this map will show you exactly where each mountain pass is currently closed from both westbound and eastbound directions in real time: California Mountain Pass Closures via Caltrans
Tioga Pass (Highway 120) | No Estimated Date for Opening
“State Route 120 West – Tioga Pass (from the Junction of US 395 to the Yosemite National Park Gate)
Crews have removed snow up to ½ mile from the Yosemite National Park east entrance gate. The snowpack is estimated to be 12 to 15 feet at the entrance gate. There is no estimated date for reopening the highway at this time. Yosemite National Park is clearing Tioga Road which is inside the park boundary.” – Caltrans District 9, June 1st 2017
Sonora Pass (Highway 108) | No Estimated Date for Opening (or… 2-3 Weeks…)
Sonora Pass is a tricky one because District 9 is saying “no estimated date for reopening” and District 10 is saying they talked to District 9 and District 9 told them it would be open in 2-3 weeks…
“State Route 108 – Sonora Pass
Crews continue to remove snow and are approximately 1 mile from the summit on the east side and about 2 miles from the summit on the west side. The snowpack is estimated to be 12 to 15 feet on the highway. There is no estimated date for reopening the highway at this time.” – Caltrans District 9, June 1st 2017
“Keeping a multi-ton vehicle bulldozer or a snow blower on track when the roadway is under 15 feet of snow is a serious undertaking, especially when the 108 switchbacks steeply in places with no guardrails. The big machines weigh 40,000 to 50,000 pounds each.” – Florene Trainor of Caltrans District 9 told the Union Democrat on June 2nd, 2017
Ebbetts Pass (Highway 4) | 3-5 Weeks Before Opening
“Caltrans Crews Reach Mosquito Lake on SR-4 Ebbetts Pass.
It will be another 3 to 5 weeks before Ebbetts Pass is opened to the traveling public, due to heavy winter snowfall and road repairs that are required before the pass is deemed safe. On the west side of the pass, SR-4 is open to the east side of Lake Alpine and on the east side, SR-4 is open to Raymond Meadow Bridge (just past Silver City).” – Caltrans District 10, June 2nd 2017
Other CA Mountain Pass Information:
“State Route 203 – From the Mammoth Mountain Parking Lot to Minaret Vista
Snow removal will begin on June 12, 2017. There is no estimated date for reopening the highway at this time.
State Route 270 – Bodie Road – Opened May 15, 2017
State Route 89 – Monitor Pass – Opened May 8, 2017
State Route 168 West – Bishop Creek – Opened April 24, 2017
State Route 120 East – Mono Mills – Opened April 14, 2017
State Route 158 – June Lake Loop – Opened April 14, 2017” – Caltrans District 9, June 1st 2017
Why Does It Take So Long To Open CA Mountain Passes?
- Why does it take so long to open the roads?
Road repairs, ditching, and brushing operations must occur once snow has melted back enough. The roads may also remain very icy even after they’re plowed.Additionally, these are common causes for slow progress on the Tioga Road:
- Avalanche zones Avalanche zones require careful work to insure the safety of personnel.
- Heavy snow pack slows the whole operation.
- Trees that have fallen across the road and been buried in the snow can cause substantial damage to equipment and result in a stop to all operations until they’re cleared.
- Rockfalls buried by the snow can cause substantial damage to the equipment and result in a stop to all operations.
- Large boulders fall onto the roadway and must be blasted in order to be removed.
- Snow storms during snow removal operations halt work for the safety of personnel.
– Caltrans District 9