Since 1980, annual visitation to Yosemite National Park has averaged 3.4 million people, 95% of which pass through Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Valley is one of the most heavily developed areas of the park and is open to visitation year round. As a result the Yosemite Valley Loop Road experiences the heaviest traffic volumes of any area in the park.
The Yosemite Valley Loop Road is a historic feature in Yosemite National Park, first built as a stagecoach road in 1872. The initial pavement was laid in 1909, and culverts were first installed a year later beneath stretches of Southside Drive. Spot repairs have been made along the roadway as required over time. However, much-needed, comprehensive maintenance and repair of the roadway and associated drainage structures had not been performed for many decades.
The Rehabilitation of the Yosemite Valley Loop Road Environmental Assessment (EA) guided the resurfacing and improvement of the Yosemite Valley Loop Road and associated drainage facilities. This planning effort was completed in 2006. This project was originally intended to address various rehabilitation needs, road surface improvements, and fulfill additional drainage needs. However, the previous Merced Wild and Scenic River-related court decision directed the National Park Service to prepare a new, valid comprehensive management plan for the river.
In the absence of a user capacity management framework and the river values that such a plan would identify, the full construction planned for this project was postponed. However, the judge did grant the park to move forward with the culvert and drainage work addressed in this project. Therefore, the construction related to culvert work continued in stages beginning in 2007.
Last updated: February 10, 2020