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Tioga Road In Yosemite National Park Still Open


Every day without snow marks another record for the Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park. Beth Pratt photo.

Editor's note: Just before Christmas Beth Pratt filed a report on the Tioga Road still being open through the high country of Yosemite National Park and the wonderful ice skating to be had on Tenaya Lake. She celebrated New Year's by driving the road on January 2, which, until today, marked a record for the latest date the road was open. Here's her latest report.

My idea of heaven is the high country in Yosemite National Park near Tioga Pass. So when I made the drive up to Tioga Pass on Monday, the latest the road has ever been open in its history, I paraphrased the line that Jon Bon Jovi used recently to debunk his reported demise: "Heaven Looks A Lot Like Tioga Pass." 

The previous record for Tioga Road occurred on January 1, 2000, when the National Park Service reopened it briefly on New Year's Day. Since 1933, the road has been open just six times past December 1.

I wrote a recent article detailing this rare occurrence for the Traveler, spoke about the specialness on KQED, and CNN iReports even featured a video I made of people ice skating on Tenaya Lake from the top of Tenaya Peak.

Bottom line: for a Yosemite and Sierra aficionado like me, having access this late is akin to winning the lottery. 

Of course when I have no drinking water next summer, I might feel differently. The lack of snow is alarming and the landscape is more reminiscent of spring than winter.

Although it's difficult to associate any one weather event or season to climate change, welcome to the Sierra Nevada of the future. I have seen predictions under the best case warming scenarios of an 80 percent reduction in snowpack.

The Sierra can often deliver a wallop of a storm anytime of year, and I have no doubt we'll recover at least some of the snow--this year at least. But this may be a warning from the ghost of the Sierra future.

Despite the threat of drought, let's celebrate this historic occasion--Tioga Road, you did it!

For those of you who couldn't drive Tioga Road today, I made a video and took some photos for you. Enjoy!


It's definitely a dry year.  I rode my bike around Lake Tahoe after Christmas and the trail was dusty!

Pretty sad if you asked me, not a good thing at all. Must say that I don't like seeing/hearing that the lack of snow/winter is being celebrated by the videographer.

Anonymous #2: When someone says "the lack of snow is alarming", they're not celebrating.

I was directed to your website surfing the web for pictures of Tioga Pass, which we are planning to travel in early July this year as 1st time visitors, and read your articles with interest.  The climate is indeed warming up in an alarming way.  With extreme consequences to foresee in years to come for the nature, the animal world, the environment, the economy, and much more.  We will sure have to adapt to this change in climate, and make every effort to minimize our planet's present shortages in natural resources (water!), even though our efforts will be a drop in the ocean, as we are too late in reacting to a situation that we created by misusing our planet's resources, and consuming too much.  I am writing from Brussels, Belgium, and our winter this year in Northern Europe has been extremely mild, and it is not raining enough throughout the year for the natural underground resources of water to be fed. Just sharing a few thoughts.  My husband and I are looking forward to drive through Tioga Pass in July.  Best regards to all readers. 

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