The main highway that connects the east and west sides of Yosemite National Park will open at noon Friday in one of the earliest opening dates in almost three decades. Light snowpack -- just 30% of normal in this drought year -- allowed plows to clear Tioga Road well before the busy Memorial Day weekend.
Tioga Road, also known as Highway 120, is the main east-west crossing of the Sierra Nevada in the park. The road provides access to back-country trails, however, campgrounds along the road as well as the gas station and store at Tuolumne Meadows haven't yet opened for the season, a park announcement said Thursday.
Park officials also are advising visitors eager to go to the back country that snowy conditions still exist at high elevations.
This year is the earliest opening for Tioga Road since 1987. The road to scenic Glacier Point also opened early on April 14.
The annual winter road closure cuts off access to Tuolumne Meadows and the eastern entrance to the park.