At 5:00pm on Thursday, Yosemite National Park closed all three major highways leading into Yosemite Valley in fear of possible flooding from the largest storm that has hit the area this winter. Many cities in the valley were expected to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain, while the mountains were expected to receive even more, which could cause flooding on the mountain and even in the valley. Park officials feared that the Merced River may flood, so park guests were asked to leave by 4:00pm on Thursday.
“Once the river goes above 10 feet then that triggers impacts such as water going over the road, it could impact vehicles, campgrounds, things like that,” stated Scott Gediman, Yosemite National Park.
This is the first time in six years Yosemite National Park has had to close all major roads due to a storm.
- HWY 140 from El Portal to Yosemite Valley will be closed at Park Line in El Portal.
- Wawona Road (HWY 41 North) from Wawona to Yosemite Valley will be closed at Chinquapin (access to Yosemite West provided).
- Big Oak Flat Road/HWY 120 will be closed at the Foresta junction, no entrance to Yosemite Valley from highway 120.
- Northside drive exiting Yosemite Valley will be closed at Yosemite Valley Lodge for outbound traffic.
Park officials said they would venture out into the park Friday morning to assess the conditions and look into reopening those closed roads. While this rain and road closures may have boosted hotel bookings for the night, it did put a damper on some people’s vacations to the park. Let’s hope conditions are up to par this morning and they can reopen the beautiful park for all to see.