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Yosemite National Park: Glacier Point Road opens Friday; chilly Memorial Day weekend predicted

May 26, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Travel & Deal blogger
(Robert Durrell / Los Angeles…)

It's been a big winter in Yosemite National Park and throughout the Sierra, and it isn't over yet.

"It may be spring in Fresno or L.A., but it's not quite like that here," park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. Indeed, with about double the usual snowpack  this year and temperatures barely hitting 60 degrees during the day, Memorial Day visitors can expect chilly weather through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Glacier Point Road will open to traffic starting noon Friday, but Tioga Road (Highway 120), the main access to Tuolumne Meadows and the park's backcountry, remains closed because of snow, ice and avalanche dangers, park officials said.

They also said the 32 miles from Yosemite Valley to the scenic overlook at Glacier Point could close any time if a spring snowstorm kicks up. Although the road will open, popular trails that lead from the point to Sentinel Dome or back to the valley remain wet and snowy in places, Cobb said. There will be no running water at the point, and nearby Bridalveil Creek Campground remains closed.

Still, the park is expected to be full for the holiday weekend, Cobb said. So wannabe campers should look for sites outside the park. Here are some tips if you're heading to Yosemite this weekend:

--Avoid entering the park between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when traffic is heaviest and lines are longest.

--Once inside, park your car and take the free shuttle around the valley rather than driving.

--Better yet, leave your car outside the park and take the YARTS shuttle bus. The 10-year-old shuttle aimed at reducing traffic in Yosemite has added runs starting at 8 a.m. from El Portal along Highway 140, through Sept. 9. It also serves Merced, Mariposa, Midpines and the Catheys Valley. Check the website for fares, stops and schedules.

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