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  • Big Oak Flat Road is closed; no access to Yosemite via Highway 120 from the west

    The Big Oak Flat Road is temporarily closed west of Crane Flat; there is no access to Yosemite via Hwy 120 from the west (except to Hetch Hetchy). Tioga Road is open and accessible if entering the park via Hwys 41 and 140, and Hwy 120 from the east. More »

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    Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek, and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds are temporarily closed. All other campgrounds, including Hodgdon Meadow, are open. More »

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Balloons

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Balloon - orange  Balloon - yellow

Balloon - blue  Balloon - mylar

Summer 2012
What are these balloons doing in Yosemite? These pictures were all taken at off-trail locations in the park wilderness, miles from any developed area. When helium filled balloons escape from parties or graduations, they rise quickly into the atmosphere, sometime reaching heights of five miles. At this point they either burst and fall to earth or get carried by the wind until they slowly deflate and sink. Either way, they can travel large distances, including into the backcountry of Yosemite. Latex balloons will ultimately biodegrade, but Mylar - or more correctly, metalized nylon - balloons, ribbons, and other plastic items will take hundreds of years to break down (and even then they won't decompose, only becoming microscopic pieces of plastic). The next time you are at a party, remember Yosemite and hang on tight to that balloon!  


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Did You Know?

Rockfall area and talus slope at base of Three Brothers in Yosemite Valley.

In March 1987, the largest historical rockfall in Yosemite National Park deposited an estimated 1.5 million tons of debris at the base of Three Brothers, closing Northside Drive for several months.