Geologic Assessment of Recent Rockfalls in Curry Village Completed
On October 7 and 8, 2008, two rockfalls occurred in Yosemite Valley, affecting the Curry Village area. This resulted in the temporary closure of many of the visitor accommodations until a thorough geologic assessment could be completed. During this time, National Park Service (NPS) geologists, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, and other national and international scientists, conducted extensive investigation and study of rockfalls that have occurred in the area above Curry Village using the latest scientific mapping and computer modeling techniques. The analysis has shown that approximately 6,000 cubic meters of rock were involved in the events.
With the increased overall frequency of rockfall over the past few years, in conjunction with the geologic research that has been conducted, the NPS can no longer treat each rockfall as an isolated incident. Instead, we must look at the area comprehensively and recognize that geologic processes that have shaped Yosemite Valley since the last glaciers receded will continue to result in rockfall.
Based on the above information, the NPS has decided to close 233 visitor accommodations (tent cabins, cabins with bath, cabins without bath) permanently. This will also permanently close associated visitor support structures (shower house, restrooms, etc.) and 43 concessioner employee housing units. This accounts for approximately one third of the units in Curry Village available to park visitors.
Additionally, 36 visitor accommodations (tent cabins and cabins with bath) that were temporarily closed will reopen to the public today. While the NPS cannot say that the occupancy of these units, and the units never closed, are totally risk free, we firmly believe that the risk remaining at Curry Village is roughly the same level of risk that exists in other areas of Yosemite Valley in which structures are located such as The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Village.
Rockfalls are natural occurrences that have shaped, and continue to shape Yosemite Valley. The natural processes that contribute to rockfall are part of the dynamics of nature. Though impossible to predict or control, ongoing scientific analysis is being conducted to further understand this natural phenomenon.
Did You Know?
At the east end of El Portal, just west of Yosemite National Park’s boundary, changing river gradients, glacial history, and powerful floods have created a boulder bar with boulders much larger than typically found in such deposits. This is no ordinary boulder bar, however, for it contains massive boulders over a meter in diameter and weighing many tons.