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Yosemite National Park Closes Indefinitely Due to Record Snowfall

Yosemite National Park just can’t catch a break. Just days after thousands of pounds of rockfall closed the park’s main road, record-breaking storms swept across Northern California, completely burying Yosemite Valley in snow. Originally due to reopen today, the park has just announced that it’s going to remain closed to visitors indefinitely. Most of the roads are inaccessible. Many lay beneath 15-foot snow drifts, the park reported in a statement. It could take days—if not weeks—to dig out.

One of the country’s most-visited national parks, Yosemite first closed its gates when the storm started on February 25. National Park Service officials originally estimated the closure to last for only a week. But yesterday, after another snowstorm, the National Park Service said it now has no estimated timeline for reopening.

At least 40 inches of snow covered the floor of Yosemite Valley on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. That’s 4 inches more than the previous record set that day, which was back in 1969. (The park’s greatest-ever recorded snow depth was 60 inches, the Times reported, in 1907.) 

If your own trip to Yosemite has been affected by the park closure, we recommend pivoting to visit another state or national recreation site until it’s safe to drive into the park again. If you’re coming from San Francisco, consider diverting to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. (Both are about four hours south of Yosemite by car.) Muir Woods National Recreation Area, where you can see towering redwood trees, is just outside of San Francisco. 

Regardless, make sure you—and your car—are prepared for winter driving conditions. This is especially true if you choose to visit an alternate national park. The National Park Service requires visitors to use tire chains during snowy and icy conditions, so don’t get caught without them.

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