The continuing drought is allowing the opening of the Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park for the second earliest time since 1980.
It is opening today at 8 a.m. for all vehicular traffic. It was opened earlier on May 2 in both 2014 and 1987. The median opening date is May 24.
It is the lowest ever recorded snowpack on Tioga Pass as a survey on April 1 showed it was 7 percent f normal. Last year when it opened May 2 it was 33 percent of normal. In 1987 — the other May 2 opening — it was 51 percent of normal on April 1. The second lowest snowpack since 1980 was 31 percent in 1988.
The Tioga Road, bounded on both sides by Highway 120, is the popular east-west crossing of the Sierra.
Visitors are urged to drive with caution while on the Tioga Road, as there will be rehabilitation work occurring on portions of the roadway. Visitors will experience portions of the road that are unpaved and should be aware that delays are in place. For more information about the construction work and traffic delays on the Tioga Road, visit: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/roadwork.htm.
Snow and icy conditions may still exist on hiking trails at the higher elevations. Visitors are urged to be prepared for snowy conditions and possible treacherous stream crossings while hiking the backcountry in the early season. Vault toilets are available in several locations along the road. Limited visitor services will be available over the next several weeks. Additionally, late spring storms may change the status of the road and cause temporary closures. For updated, 24-hour road conditions, call 209.372.0200.
All campgrounds along the Tioga Road are closed. All commercial services, including the gas station, store, and village grill, are also closed. There are no anticipated opening dates for any of these facilities at this time.