Popular Yosemite spot will be inaccessible in 2021. Public comment period open

Glacier Point Road in Yosemite National Park will be closed for road construction in 2021.

The Glacier Point Road Rehabilitation Project will start in spring 2021 and the road is expected to be closed at least through that fall.

Yosemite officials announced the closure in a news release Monday, along with a public meeting and comment period about the Glacier Point Road Rehabilitation Project.

The meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Fresno Flats Road, Oakhurst.

The public comment period is open until Sept. 18. More information is available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/glacierpointroadrehab.

Badger Pass Ski Area, located off Glacier Point Road, will remain open and operational during the 2020-21 winter season, said Yosemite spokesperson Jamie Richards.

“The road construction will only impact the spring/summer recreational opportunities,” Richards said, “like driving from the Badger Pass intersection to the Glacier Point Parking Area.”

Yosemite is recommending a full closure of Glacier Point Road from spring through fall 2021, and partial closures (30-minute traffic delays) in 2022.

“If the road is not closed completely the first year, it could take an extra year to complete the project, with significant extra cost,” the park wrote on its website. “Keeping the road open would also jeopardize visitor and worker safety, as the public would traverse narrow roads with steep drop-offs and other hazards. The park will make a final determination on construction phasing when civic engagement and environmental compliance processes are concluded.”

Richards said hiking trails in the area, such as the Four Mile Trail, Pohono Trail, and Panorama Trail will remain open, but hikers will need to stay outside of work zones. All trailheads on Glacier Point Road, like McGurk Meadow, will close in 2021. Hikers can still access trails from outside the Glacier Point Road corridor, Richards said.

The rehabilitation project will address “multiple severe safety issues” on 10 miles of road between Badger Pass Ski Area and Glacier Point – a popular tourist destination at the end of the road, with panoramic views of the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley below.

The project aims to do the following:

Pulverize and repave 10 miles of road between Badger Pass and Glacier Point.

Repair the narrow hairpin turns between Washburn Point and Glacier Point to address vehicular safety issues.

Construct additional parking and new vault toilets near the Sentinel Dome Trailhead, located along Glacier Point Road.

At the Oakhurst meeting, park staff will provide presentations about the project from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by an open house from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Public feedback about the project will also be gathered during this meeting.

Additional information will also be provided about upcoming roadwork and construction along Tioga Road, the park’s connector over the Sierra Nevada.

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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.