• Rainbow over Half Dome

    Yosemite

    National Park California

Update for January 5, 2014

January 11, 2014 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski
New snow: 0 
Total settled snow depth: 5” as of January 5, 2014 

Skiing Conditions and Weather: Different year, same dry Sierra. Calendar year 2013 was the driest year in the history of weather record keeping in Yosemite National Park. That being said, there is still enough snow in the greater tuolumne area for skiing. What we lack in snow depth is more than made up for by the wilderness experience that one can have by visiting this part of Yosemite in winter time. The unique opportunity of experiencing an automobile free tuolumne meadows in winter is not to be underestimated. The solitude and freedom that one feels here in the winter without cars is exceptional. Many park visitors took advantage of the ski conditions to experience this wild tuolumne over the holidays. A bicycle is still a good idea if approaching from the east as the road in Lee Vining Canyon is mostly dry. Once you hit the park boundary at Tioga Pass the road is 99% snow covered to tuolumne meadows and beyond. The cross country ski conditions are good, though there have been enough melt freeze cycles now to produce icy conditions in the early and later parts of the day. North facing slopes still have over a foot of snow coverage, while the south facing slopes are bare. 

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events. The avalanche hazard in the tuolumne area is low. 

Wildlife: We came upon an interesting scene near Dog Lake last week. First we observed mountain lion tracks, unmistakable in the snow. The tracks led to a porcupine carcass. All that was left were quills and hide, and a few organs that the feline apparently buried beneath the snow for later. Pretty cool stuff. We also observed a bald eagle over the Lyell Fork, and a pine marten cruising the housing area. Pine siskins, and red crossbills have been enjoying the morning warmth on the south slopes of Lembert Dome, and a northern pygmy owl has been heard on many nights from our residence. 

Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at 209/372-8734. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you are unable to reach the ranger station. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut. 

Tuolumne-Meadows-from-Lembert-Dome-on-January-4,-2014
Tuolumne Meadows from Lembert Dome on January 4, 2014

Happy Trails! Laura and Rob Pilewski Tuolumne Meadows Winter Volunteers 


62 Comments Comments Icon

  1. Judy - Florida
    June 16, 2014 at 07:04

    Thank you for this interesting blog! I have never been; but hope to make it to Yosemite Nat'l Park one of these days.From all I have seen, it's beautiful!!

  2. Chris - Sparks, MD
    April 22, 2014 at 04:38

    @Ian +1 to your comment.

  3. Ian - Santa Cruz, CA.
    April 16, 2014 at 03:17

    YNP, "Staffing issues" eh? We sure hope that you haven't lost the Pilewskis- Rob and Laura are a great asset to the Yosemite high country! Say it isn't so

  4. Fred
    April 15, 2014 at 06:20

    YNP, Thanks for the reply and also for responding to these comments. I also miss the Tioga webcam but it is a park first and foremost. Maybe next year we'll get some snow.

  5. Yosemite National Park
    April 15, 2014 at 02:41

    @Jo, we're posting what we can. As for the webcam, there's no Internet connectivity available for the webcam to use.

  6. jo - san francisco, ca
    April 15, 2014 at 11:06

    Wish this was updated more frequently, how about a couple photos? I have really missed the Tioga Pass webcam the last couple years, any chance of getting that back?

  7. Yosemite National Park
    April 11, 2014 at 06:30

    @Fred, we had a variety of staffing issues this year.

  8. Fred
    April 11, 2014 at 06:18

    "these reports are currently on hiatus" What happened?

  9. Jamie - Nashville, TN
    April 04, 2014 at 08:07

    @Yosemite National Park Thanks so much! Looks like I'll be able to drive on Tioga in mid-May. :)))

  10. Yosemite National Park
    April 02, 2014 at 02:38

    @jamie, it's 33%. (I've updated http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm, too--thanks for reminding me!)

  11. Jamie - Nashville, TN
    April 02, 2014 at 02:13

    Hi, do you have the Snowpack % as of April 1 this year. I'm trying to have a general idea of the possible open date for Tioga. Thanks a lot!

  12. Yosemite National Park
    March 31, 2014 at 07:50

    @Olivier, you can call them directly at 209/372-8734 to see if they'll be available to meet you.

  13. Olivier - Palo Alto, CA
    March 30, 2014 at 11:33

    Anyone knows if Laura and Rob Pilewski are still up in Tuolumne Meadows? My son (who Laura rescued from HAPE a few summers ago near Mt. Whitney) and I are trying to visit them this week on our way across (east-to west).

  14. Chris - Sparks, Maryland
    March 30, 2014 at 09:22

    :-) Yeah, 7 to 10 feet...if only...!

  15. Yosemite National Park
    March 28, 2014 at 11:09

    @Craig, correction 7-10 *inches* at elevations above 7,000 feet.

  16. Yosemite National Park
    March 28, 2014 at 11:04

    @Craig, The Tuolumne area received about 12" of snow from the last weather system. Also, there is a winter weather advisory in effect from noon Saturday (March 29, 2014) until early Sunday morning; snow accumulations from 7-10 feet above elevations of 7,000 ft. Forecast and details can be found at: http://go.usa.gov/bz84.

  17. Yosemite National Park
    March 27, 2014 at 02:04

    @Lori-Ann, Due to the lack of precipitation this year, there is a good chance that many waterfalls will be dry by the end of August. Bridalveil, Nevada, and Vernal Falls usually continue to flow all year round and will likely still have a little water by the end of August. Waterfall information can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm.

  18. Craig - San Francisco, CA
    March 27, 2014 at 09:17

    Did you get much new snow up there in the last few days? I was planning to ski to Tuolumne Meadows on Saturday but may cancel if the new snow is too deep.

  19. Lori-Ann - RI
    March 26, 2014 at 04:02

    Question: I was planning a trip for the last week in August, do you think there still will be flowing waterfalls? And if so which ones? What do you think?

  20. Yosemite National Park
    March 26, 2014 at 02:13

    @Jeff, thanks!

  21. Jeff - Danville, CA
    March 26, 2014 at 02:01

    Yep, it was on the north side of the road, about 20 feet. The photo was actually taken from the road shoulder. I think it was near the Lukens Lake trailhead... maybe a little west of there. The bike was leaning on the east side of the tree... it's easiest to spot heading Westbound on road.

  22. Yosemite National Park
    March 25, 2014 at 03:47

    @Jeff, do you remember how far off the road and which side of the road the bike is?

  23. Marcel - Gordonville, PA
    March 25, 2014 at 09:47

    My family and I are going to be visiting Yosemite Memorial Day weekend. What are the creeks/rivers and waterfalls predicted to be like over that time in light of a dry winter?

  24. Jeff - Danville, CA
    March 24, 2014 at 02:07

    3-20 @Kevin and I made the trip from Crane Flate to Tioga Pass and back. We finally reached consistent snow after about 10 miles of hiking up highway 120 from Crane Flat. Had to don and doff skis about a dozen times after that to save bases but it was more or less covered from there to Tioga Pass. Got a dusting of snow Friday but it was essentially gone by the time we got back on Saturday. We saw a eerily abandoned (yet ridable and unlocked) bike about 15 miles east of Crane Flat and thought about taking it to ease the hike back (but didn't). Here's a photo if someone knows who/why it might be there: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hrZDr37CDHQ/Uy-ytN5yCSI/AAAAAAAAMCk/4DKKysxafWI/w640-h480-no/P1040791.JPG

  25. Yosemite National Park
    March 23, 2014 at 07:23

    @Sarah, if it's a mule ride in Yosemite Valley, it will probably be fairly dry, but Vernal and Nevada Falls always have some water.

  26. Sarah
    March 23, 2014 at 07:20

    I was planning on a mule trip in Tuolomne in July. It sounds as though creeks and waterfalls aren't going to be much and it's going to continue to be pretty dry.. Am I right?

  27. Terry - Sacramento, CA
    March 18, 2014 at 05:37

    My group visited Tuolumne Meadows on March 14-15. The snow line on the east side of Tioga Pass is at the Warren Fork turn in the road. I don't know where the snow begins on the west end of the Tioga Road, but there is literally no snow at Crane Flat. We went down the Snow Creek trail into Yosemite Valley on Monday and ran out of snow just below the Snow Creek cabin.

  28. Kevin S - Alamo, CA
    March 16, 2014 at 11:39

    Has anyone headed down Tioga Rd. from Crane Flat? Where does the snow begin? What's coverage like from either the west or east side?

  29. Yosemite National Park
    March 07, 2014 at 11:32

    @Chris: It is still too early to tell when the Tioga and Glacier Point Roads will reopen. Typically plowing begins sometime in April; once started you can follow the progress on our website at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tioga.htm.

  30. Chris L - Nashville, TN
    March 07, 2014 at 10:45

    Can you give an update on current snow conditions in light of the rapid approach of Spring. Is it still looking like early May for Tioga Rd. and Glacier Point? Thanks.

  31. Yosemite National Park
    March 05, 2014 at 05:30

    @mike, That seems about right, based on current conditions.

  32. Mike
    March 02, 2014 at 10:56

    I'll be in the park the first week of June. Hoping a relatively dry and warm winter and spring means I can do Clouds Rest without too much snow, or deep running water to cross (I hear the mosquitoes are miserable...that'll be a big enough obstacle for me!). Or at the very least get to Sunrise and Cathedral Lakes. Anything can happen, but does that seem somewhat plausible given how conditions have been thus far? I'm hearing a warmer than usual spring is being predicted, too. Thanks!

  33. Yosemite National Park
    March 02, 2014 at 06:02

    @Jeff: Current snow levels in the Crane Flat area are minimal. You would probably have to travel a considerable distance beyond the gate before encountering snow.

  34. Jeff - Danville, Ca
    March 02, 2014 at 11:38

    An earlier comment said 120 was gated at crane flat. Any idea on the snow coverage on the road above the gate?

  35. Yosemite National Park
    February 28, 2014 at 07:15

    @Brandy, the amount of snow in Tuolumne Meadows at this time of year varies considerably each year, but it's usually around 50 inches (currently, there's about half that much).

  36. Brandy - Guntersville, Alabama
    February 27, 2014 at 02:23

    How many feet of snow do you normally have this time of year vs the 3 feet that you now have?

  37. Brandy - Guntersville, Alabama
    February 27, 2014 at 02:23

    How many feet of snow do you normally have this time of year vs the 3 feet that you now have?

  38. Brandy - Guntersville, Alabama
    February 27, 2014 at 02:21

    How many feet of snow do you normally have this time of year vs the 3 feet that you now have?

  39. Yosemite National Park
    February 24, 2014 at 07:33

    @Matt, the waterfalls should be flowing fairly well in April.

  40. Yosemite National Park
    February 24, 2014 at 07:32

    @bill, 40 inches is probably pretty close at Tioga Pass (there's about three feet of snow around 9,200 feet). More snow is in the forecast. The Tioga Road is still 100% snow covered in the Tuolumne Meadows area.

  41. Matt - Sacramento, CA
    February 23, 2014 at 09:44

    Will the waterfalls be strong in April 2014?

  42. bill - truckee, ca
    February 20, 2014 at 08:44

    Headed up tioga pass road in a few weekends. Was wondering where the snow level is. Remote sensors show that there is 40 inches at the entrance station, is this true?

  43. Nancy - Newport Beach, CA
    February 17, 2014 at 09:47

    new update, mid-Feb please?? THANK YOU!

  44. Yosemite National Park
    February 06, 2014 at 06:31

    @bob, these reports are currently on hiatus. We hope to resume them in the future.

  45. bob - watsonville, ca
    February 06, 2014 at 05:09

    when will the "weekly" report be updated?

  46. Yosemite National Park
    February 05, 2014 at 05:53

    @Michael, the waterfalls should be flowing in mid-June, but they may not have as much volume as they would in a more typical year. It will depend a lot upon spring weather, too, so it's really impossible to predict at this point.

  47. Michael - Tulsa, Oklahoma
    February 05, 2014 at 12:10

    Pardon me, Yosemite park rangers. But I just read a rather depressing article about how this is the worst drought for California in 500 years. That being said, how do you think the waterfalls will be by middle of June? This will be our very first time to come up there, and I want to make the most of our experience.

  48. Ian
    January 29, 2014 at 02:06

    What are the current conditions? We are looking forward to the weekly updates. Thanks a lot.

  49. Jamie
    January 29, 2014 at 11:33

    @Pam: Hi Pam, thanks so much! I am working on a Plan B in case Tioga is not open by then. I read so many good things about Tioga and I do hope my parents won't miss it. Do you have any suggestions on other roads from Yellowstone. I am also trying to find a place to bread the drive from Yellowstone to Yosemite to two days. I'm a bit lost. Thanks a lot!

  50. Pam - Poughkeepsie, NY
    January 29, 2014 at 09:52

    @Jamie: there are other ways to get from Yellowstone to Yosemite valley, and some are all-year roads and quite beautiful (but probably longer). Even some of the other summer-only roads often open before the Tioga Pass road in a snowy year. Have a great trip!

  51. Yosemite National Park
    January 26, 2014 at 10:53

    @Dianna, the Tuolumne Meadows Campground and Tioga Road are closed for the season. Open campgrounds in other parts of the park (Hodgdon Meadow, Wawona, Camp 4, and Upper Pines) have very little to no snow. Visit our hiking page for information about trails throughout the park: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hiking.htm. Enjoy!

  52. Dianna - San Francisco,, CA
    January 26, 2014 at 06:33

    Can you give me an idea of how much snow is at the campgrounds? I am hoping to come up today and camp for the next few nights. Also, any suggestions for great day hikes this week? thanks

  53. Yosemite National Park
    January 24, 2014 at 07:54

    @Evan, the entire Tioga Road (within the park) is closed (from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass). It appears Caltrans still has the road closed on the east beginning five miles east of US 395 (and all the way up to Tioga Pass).

  54. Evan Raymond - Oakland, CA
    January 24, 2014 at 07:41

    Hi I am wondering where exactly hwy 120 is closed from. which trails are accessible? is it possible to get into the backcountry right now from Lake Tenaya?

  55. Yosemite National Park
    January 24, 2014 at 07:32

    @Jamie, it's still too early to have any idea when the Tioga Road might open. In a drier-than-average year, it's usually open before May 24, but it will depend on weather for the next few months. (1991 started off very dry, but the road ended up opening late in May because of late-season snowfall.) You can find previous road opening dates at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm.

  56. Jamie
    January 24, 2014 at 06:38

    Hi, do you have any rough idea about when would the Tioga Road be open this year? (or maybe just earlier or later than average, etc.) My parents is coming to the States in May and they will only be staying for two weeks from May 11 to 24. We plan to visit Yellowstone and from there to Yosemite en route Tioga. Thanks a lot!

  57. Nancy - Newport Beach, CA
    January 18, 2014 at 12:26

    I wondered if that was the reason it had not re-opened...makes sense. Even a mtn. bike probably isn't too safe. I appreciate your response.

  58. Yosemite National Park
    January 17, 2014 at 03:37

    @Nancy: Recent surveys of conditions on Tioga Road by road crews found that a significant ice layer has formed on the road this year due to extended cold temperatures following brief warming periods earlier in the season. Tioga Road was designed and is maintained as a summer road, so it lacks guardrails, berms, and other engineered features to prevent sliding vehicles from dropping off many of the embankments. In the fall of 2012, the park pushed the envelope trying to keep the road open and during one small snowstorm had 26 accidents, including multiple rolled vehicles, in a period of less than two hours due to icy conditions.

  59. Nancy - Newport Beach, CA
    January 16, 2014 at 11:08

    I just read on a Mammoth forum that the road from Lee Vining to the entrance of the park is clear of snow. If that is in fact true, and given the lack of precipitation, (and lack of weather in the forecast!) is there a reason why the road would remain closed to car traffic? Sure would give us a great opportunity to x-cty ski or do some amazing winter hiking/snow-shoeing in the park.

  60. ana - riverbank, ca
    January 14, 2014 at 12:13

    We want to go up there on sunday but are hoping there is snow do u think there will be?

  61. Mark - Pagosa Springs, CO
    January 12, 2014 at 06:35

    Happy Trails to you too!

  62. Ken Jessett
    January 12, 2014 at 01:07

    Fabulous scene, thanks.

 

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Did You Know?

Sierra Sweet Bay

In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.