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Long Waits and Road Closures: Weekends in Yosemite

| February 10, 2008

Photo: Long Lines. Photo by Loyd Schutte

If you’re headed up to the park on 140 (Merced/Mariposa) or 120 (Manteca/Groveland) then be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait some more. In fact, be prepared to wait half an hour or more.

Road construction on the El Portal Road where 120/140 meet is still taking place and construction is in high gear as crews try to finish before the spring thaw.

I also need to point out that the road CLOSES at 10 PM and reopens at 6 AM the next morning. This means you CAN NOT enter or leave the park on Highway 140 or Highway 120 during those hours. Your best bet is to use 41 through Wawona and then take 49 back to Mariposa if you really need to go out this way at night. Chains are required on 41 right now though so you will also have to chain up.

Traffic on Northside Drive past Yosemite Lodge is being rerouted back to Southside Drive still due to the rockslide last month at Middle Brother. Traffic in the park is heavy and roads are wet with some ice. Drive slow! The posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour.

There is one consolation to this drivers nightmare though…the park is BEAUTIFUL right now. With a little walking there’s no shortage of places you can get away from the crowds in the Valley. There’s a little water flowing from Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls but most of the smaller falls aren’t flowing or have iced up. Bridalveil is EXTREMELY beautiful as the last rays of sunlight hit (this was around 4pm yesterday) before the sun moves behind Cathedral Rocks. The spray becomes a semi-translucent veil with rainbows. If you’re planning on taking pictures of this shoot from the oaks south of the Merced where the road widens by Bridalveil not the parking lot or path. Try to get as much of your frame filled as possible and you’ll have a photo to frame.

Have a great trip if you decide to head up! It’s worth the headache.

Oh! And to the guy who was in the store yesterday whose wife said, “Lets get some cheese and crackers.” and you grabbed the spray cheese in a can. You rock!

Category: Day Tripping, Travel

About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

Comments (4)

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  1. Mike Barlow says:

    Thanks for the photo tip! We’re planning a trip in the next couple of weeks and I’ll be taking your advice and shooting from the south side of the Merced.

  2. Brian says:

    It’s only a 7 minute wait if you can drive between 6:30 pm and 6:30 am.

    There is also some nature rubber-necking – 2 coyotes are hanging out by the road and posing for photos. They’re smart critters – this may be some kind of vendetta or revenge….

  3. Brian says:

    Oops – make that 6:30pm to 10pm and 6am to 6:30am.
    Road info – 209.372.0200

  4. […] wrote about the driving hassle (and spray cheese) last week. I prefer string […]