Spring is on hold in Yosemite, park officials say. See some of the winter damage

Damage to facilities in Half Dome Village and Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley caused by winter weather.
Damage to facilities in Half Dome Village and Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley caused by winter weather. Special to The Bee

Winter storms caused extensive damage to Yosemite National Park facilities, resulting in some late seasonal openings throughout the park, Yosemite officials announced Wednesday.

Heavy winter snowpack was measuring at approximately 143 percent of normal in Yosemite’s Merced and Tuolumne River drainages as of March 1. The final snow survey of the year will be conducted April 1.

Several significant storms in January and February resulted in damaged utilities, destroyed or damaged tent cabins, and trees falling on campground restrooms and campsites, parking areas, hiking trails, and roads.

Some of that damage was in Half Dome Village and Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley.

Storms also caused rock and debris slides that temporarily closed roads.

Here's a look at Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall from early June 2018 as the snow in the Sierra melts rapidly, transforming into these powerful displays. These waterfalls will slow to a trickle later in the summer when the snowpack melts away.

Yosemite’s Glacier Point and Tioga roads are not expected to open before Memorial Day, although snow plowing will start in April. A late opening is expected for Tioga Road, the park’s connector to the Eastern Sierra.

Other late openings include the installation of Half Dome cables, and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias visitor shuttle and vehicle access to the grove’s parking areas.

Yosemite Conservancy president Frank Dean tells how descriptions of the giant sequoias of Yosemite National Park in the 1860s led to President Abraham Lincoln setting aside land for preservation and conservation for the first time.

For the latest on park programs and facilities, visit nps.gov/yose. Several facilities operated by Yosemite Hospitality, the park’s primary concessioner, are also expected to open later than usual. For the latest on those programs and facilities, visit travelyosemite.com.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite, call 209-372-0200 and press 1.

Yosemite will see significant snowmelt as temperatures warm this spring, resulting in higher levels of water in river and streams. Officials warn that cold and swift-moving waters pose a potential hazard.

“All visitors are reminded to take special precautions around water, especially around stream-crossings,” park officials said. “Even the best swimmers can find themselves in a difficult situation under the current water conditions.”

Accessing the snow-covered valley of Yosemite National Park is difficult in winter, but those who make it say it’s worth the effort.

Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.