A milestone of spring in California — the opening of the Tioga Pass road through the backcountry of Yosemite National Park — looks to be happening earlier this year due to the light snowpack. A May 11 opening on Saturday would be the fourth earliest on the calendar since 1980, says Tom Stienstra, the Northern California outdoors writer. Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada was well below average this winter and spring. Last spring the Tioga Road opened on May 7.
The road's annual reopening over the truly majestic 9,943-foot Tioga Pass — which takes place after the route is cleared of ice and any rocks and trees that fell during the winter — reconnects U.S. Highway 395 with Yosemite. It also allows folks on the east side of the Sierra Nevada to see friends and family and conduct business without a longer drive around the mountains. Sonora Pass, Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Pass opened in April. The road to Glacier Point in the Yosemite high country reopened May 3.
Yosemite National Park photo: Plowing the Tioga road