Update for April 17, 2024

April 17, 2024 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski
Upper Unicorn Creek drainage on April 11, 2024.
Upper Unicorn Creek drainage on April 11, 2024.
New Snow: 4 inches
Settled Snow Depth: 50 inches
High Temperature: 57°F (April 11)
Low Temperature: 10°F (April 14)

Ski Conditions and Weather

Tuolumne Meadows Le Couloir on April 14, 2024.
Tuolumne Meadows Le Couloir (corridor) on April 14, 2024.

This is our final post of the 2024 winter. Unlike most snowbirds, after the May 1 snow surveys, we will be migrating south to our summer Sierra Nevada home.

Although it was a late start to winter, once the storm door opened in January the frequency of storms and the precipitation contained therein has resulted in an approximate 100% of “average” snowpack for snow water equivalent on the ground as of mid-April. This is good news for the Sierra Nevada water bank.

This week saw a big warm up followed by a brief return to winter. As of this writing the forecast is calling for an extended period of springlike weather. This bodes well for good spring ski conditions as there is an ample snowpack that will be going through melt freeze cycles and producing corn snow. The spring ski season is upon us!

Outside and east of Yosemite, Caltrans has started snow removal efforts on Highway 120. They are making progress toward Tioga Pass from the east and are currently near the Saddlebag Road junction. Visitors approaching Yosemite National Park from the east via Highway 120 are advised to use caution and give equipment operators a wide berth for their safety and yours. There is no estimated opening date for the Tioga Road.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) and the Bridgeport Avalanche Center (BAC) for the avalanche advisories for this part of the Sierra Nevada.

Daily avalanche forecasts are no longer being put out by the avalanche centers. Much gratitude to ESAC and BAC for the invaluable service they provide to local communities and eastern Sierra Nevada recreationalists!

The snowpack in this part of the Sierra Nevada is setting up quite nicely for the spring season. Good coverage, ample snow depth, and continued melt freeze cycles should see surface conditions improving. Avalanche concerns will be centered around wet slide instabilities. Visitors should be mindful of this and be aware of increasing hazard when there is little or no overnight freeze, and when penetrating deeper into the snowpack as the day warms. Glide cracks are becoming more apparent in this area as well. The smooth granite surfaces of the domes in the Tuolumne Meadows area make for a higher potential of glide avalanches.

Tuolumne Meadows and Unicorn Peak April 14, 2024.
Tuolumne Meadows and Unicorn Peak April 14, 2024.

History of Snow Surveys

Although nobody can predict what next winter will hold, we at least have a good idea how much snow (and water) is here in the Sierra Nevada at present. From the information gathered from the Mount Rose sampler to the modern day Snowtel sites and weekly snow satellite imagery available, you can start to plan your summer adventures. Will you need your ice axe? How high will the water crossings be? Will there be mosquitoes (of course)? But not yet! Until then, enjoy the rest of the ski season 😊.

California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) Station Locator

Cathedral Peak on April 12, 2024.
Cathedral Peak on April 12, 2024.


This week animals of all kinds flocked to the mountains en masse; even snowboarders and skiers 😉. No sooner had we put down the pen from last week’s post, the yellow-rumped warbler and Cassin’s finch arrived. Red crossbills and evening grosbeaks crowded around Soda Springs lapping up the tasty minerals. The kildeer would call out nervously if anyone came too close… understandable given the feathers scattered on the snow surface, evidence of not-so-friendly fire from above (raptors/owls).

Even the radio squawked of bear jams in Yosemite Valley and tracks were seen along the Tioga Road near Tioga Pass and Tenaya Lake. The Steller’s jay is already staged in the Tuolumne Meadows Campground but will be disappointed to hear that is it closed for another summer.

Williamson’s and red-naped sapsuckers, along with the hairy woodpeckers tested various snags for the optimal acoustics. For some reason the northern flicker is more of a headbanger and prefers the sounds of metal in the housing area, no less mocking us that winter solitude in Tuolumne Meadows is officially over. Copy that. Time to reluctantly move on. As always, we are thankful for each day we have had the pleasure of living and working in such a magical place.


The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. This primitive cabin is the campground reservation office in the summer and is located along the Tioga Road at the entrance to the campground. It is marked with a sign. There is firewood and 8 bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For those visiting the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut from the east (only) permits are self-issued at the Ski Hut. For those entering from other areas, please see Yosemite’s website: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildfaq.htm#winter or you may contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740. As of this writing, there is electricity and limited phone service in Tuolumne Meadows.

Come prepared, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness!

Read through the following three pages before embarking on any day or overnight snow travel within this park: 

You may contact us with any additional winter Tuolumne Meadows related questions but response times may vary if we are away on patrol.  

We hope to ski ya next winter!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers

Cathedral Peak on April 14, 2024.
Cathedral Peak on April 14, 2024.

Last updated: April 17, 2024

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