Bracing for more floods and snowmelt, three Yosemite campgrounds will close on Monday
Amid warming temperatures, record snowmelt and yet another flood forecast, Yosemite National Park announced that three campgrounds will be closed starting Monday.
Housekeeping Camp and the Lower and North Pines campgrounds will remain closed until conditions clear up — and additional closures are possible, park officials said. More updates will be provided by Monday evening.
A flood watch issued Saturday evening by the National Weather Service is in effect through at least Friday. Officials say the Merced River could reach 12.6 feet by mid-week and overtop Pohono Bridge, an iconic stone crossing in Yosemite Valley.
HNX issues Flood Watch valid at May 14, 7:00 PM PDT for Merced River at Pohono Bridge [CA] till May 19, 7:00 PM PDT https://t.co/mRCW39GPlw pic.twitter.com/qEYZgO8OfI
— IEMBot HNX (@iembot_hnx) May 13, 2023
After an extreme series of storms blanketed the Sierra Nevada with record-setting snow, the entire park was closed for nearly a month from late February to mid-March. Most campsites had to close again in late April as the normally serene Merced River surged over its banks.
Unlike last month’s flood forecast, the latest forecast calls for warm weather indefinitely, which could accelerate snowmelt and flooding. As of May 1, officials said, Yosemite still had more than double the average amount of snow on the ground for this time of year.
"The combination of extended hot weather and abundant snow means the Merced River may remain above flood stage for some time," park officials said. Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls are also flowing very powerfully.
Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Mariposa Grove will still be accessible by entering via Highways 41 and 140, but park officials noted that reaching the Mariposa Grove requires a four-mile round-trip hike with 500 feet of elevation change.
Hetch Hetchy and Hodgdon Meadow are accessible via Highway 120 from the west, but Tioga Road (a continuation of Highway 120 through the park) and Glacier Point Road are still closed — and likely won’t open until July, if not later, due to heavy snow.
Big Oak Flat Road is also expected to remain closed until mid-June or July.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.