Parts of Yosemite to Close Due to Flood Risk

Officials are planning a five-day closure for most of Yosemite National Park because they’re worried melting snow will cause flooding. According to this week’s announcement, the closure will run from Friday, April 28, at 10 pm until May 3, “but could last longer.”

The concern about flooding was prompted by an unusually large amount of snowfall in the area this past season — an estimated 237% more — combined with the seasonal rise in temperature, which is predicted to increase this weekend.  

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch alert alongside a forecast showing temperatures getting as high as 58 degrees on Friday and 84 degrees in surrounding areas. “Warm temperatures may melt snowpacks and increase river flows,” the NWS alert says. 

In their statement, park officials describe seeing high water in Yosemite Valley as “an amazing experience,” but also warn that they close once the Merced River at Pohono Bridge is forecasted to exceed 10 feet. 

yosemite valley graph
Source: NPS

“At flood stage (10 feet), roads and other critical infrastructure begin flooding, making it unsafe for visitors to be in Yosemite Valley,” officials said, adding that it’s likely to reach flood stage “off and on from late April through early July.”

According to park officials, flooding affects the park in a number of ways. In addition to making trails snowy, flooded, and/or muddy late into the summer, it also creates road hazards, limits parking, and makes the Merced River unsafe for swimming, rafting, and boating. 

If Yosemite Valley does flood, officials say reservations for lodging and campgrounds will automatically be canceled and refunded, and wilderness permits can be rescheduled to alternate trailheads. 

Related: Could This Be The Wildest Whitewater Season Ever?