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Yosemite plans a limited reopening Saturday after weather shut down the park for weeks

Yosemite National Park plans to “restore minimal public access” Saturday after closing for nearly a month due to multiple winter storms that dumped record snow, triggered several rockfalls and damaged many park facilities.

Yosemite Valley, one of the most popular and accessible parts of the world-famous park, will reopen to visitors Saturday during the day, but park officials have warned that many roads in the park remain closed and trails are still covered in snow. , according to a statement from park officials. The Hetch Hetchy Valley in the northwestern part of the national park will also reopen from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., park officials said.

Visitors will be able to access Yosemite Valley only from the west via Highway 140 and El Portal Road, with a small detour at El Portal, the statement said. The valley will have limited services available.

Hetch Hetchy will also be accessible only from the west, via Highway 120 and Evergreen Road.

Park officials said all other roads and areas in the park, including Big Oak Flat and Wawona Roads, will remain closed, noting that in recent weeks the park has documented 22 rock slides, many debris flows and other road failures. slopes along the paths of the park. although many have been mitigated.

The park closed on February 25 and has since broken at least two snowfall records, one for snowpack in Yosemite Valley and another in the park’s highlands, where Tuolumne Meadows broke a 1983 record for the amount of snow on the ground, with 146 inches on Wednesday, according to park officials.

Yosemite Valley has received more than 21 inches of rain and Tuolumne Meadows has received more than 15 feet of new snow since February 21, when the storms began, park officials said.

Park officials expect Yosemite Valley to return to its typical 24-hour operation Monday, including limited overnight lodging, but no camping, as campsites remain buried by snow. That plan could take a hit with a wetter weather forecast for early next week.

Yosemite Valley is forecast to see at least an additional foot of snow Monday through Wednesday, while higher elevations could see much more, according to to the National Weather Service. The Tioga Pass region, east of the park, could receive up to 3 feet of snow.

Closer to shore, some forecasters predict California could see more storms sparked by another atmospheric river systemBut it’s not yet clear how much of that particularly heavy precipitation will hit Yosemite, though significant snowfall is expected.

While many paved pedestrian trails have been cleared in Yosemite Valley, all hiking trails are covered in snow, and officials have warned visitors not to hike those trails without proper equipment.

Park officials recommended that visitors come prepared with chains and call (209) 372-0200 to check trail conditions.