Tioga Pass, Yosemite's busy back door, will finally open to vehicles at 8 a.m. Thursday, a month later than usual. Bike riders and hikers can begin using the road at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The Tioga Pass reopening comes just in time for the busiest summer weekend. It is the latest opening since 1998, when snows closed the pass until July 1.
It is particularly significant for Mammoth Lakes residents and visitors, since it is their gateway to Yosemite National Park.
What users need to know
- There will be minimal services available for several weeks.
- No drinking water will be available.
- Visitors should use the vault and portable toilets located along the roadway to help protect water quality in the Tuolumne River watershed.
- There is no mobile phone service yet and 911 will not be operational.
- With no gasoline available along Tioga Road, visitors should purchase gasoline in Lee Vining and at Crane Flat.
- Tamarack Flat Campground is the only campground that is open along Tioga Road. This campground is first-come, first serve and fills early in the day.
Winter conditions on trails
The National Park Service also suggests that anyone planning to hike near Tuolumne Meadows and in all high-elevation areas of Yosemite should be prepared for winter conditions. Trails are still affected by snow and ice. In addition, rivers are high and difficult to cross.
There are several high-water areas affecting the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park, the park service said.
For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, call (209) 372-0200 and press 1.
For maps and visitor information, visit the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center, open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Snow had been 3 stories high
The roadway had been blocked by snow three stories high, and crews have been skimming away the blockage, from top to bottom, for months. Adding to the challenge were avalanches, boulders and fallen trees, even the occasional late-spring blizzard.
Past opening dates in years of heavy snow:
1998 – July 1
2010 -- June 52011 – June 18