Yosemite has undergone quite a bit in recent years. Wildfires have ravaged the entire state of California, and have made their way up to the Northern California national park, enveloping the trees in smoke and exuding ash deposits across trails on several different occasions. But to kick off 2021, incredibly high winds swept through the beloved natural lands, causing two massive Sequoia trees to topple over. The storm ultimately resulted in millions of dollars in damage within the park.
Keep reading for more on the catastrophic and damaging winds that swept through Yosemite National Park, what type of damage the park is now recovering from, and for more information regarding visitation rules following this truly devastating storm.
Yosemite's wind damage was completely catastrophic.
Starting on Monday, Jan. 18, seriously strong Mono Winds blew through most of California, extending upwards to one of the state's most sacred national parks, Yosemite. According to Lessons of Our Land, a Mono Wind is a strong localized gust that blows across the slopes of the central Sierra Nevada, sloping downwards. They can sometimes reach up to 50 miles per hour in speed, and often lead to irreparable damage.
According to The Guardian, several trees — including two massive sequoia trees — were blown over in the park's section called Mariposa Grover of Giant Sequoias. As per Treehugger, sequoias are two of 11 of the most endangered tree species in the U.S. Various buildings in the park, boardwalks, trucks, and nearby highways also sustained major damage, which will cost millions of dollars to restore. Nearby power lines were also toppled, causing 300,000 nearby residents and businesses to lose power.
When will Yosemite National Park be open to visitors again?
Officials were hoping to reopen the park by Friday, Jan. 22, but doing so wasn't possible. Yosemite National Park will remain closed off to visitors through the entirety of the weekend, through to early next week, because fallen power lines and trees pose a risk to visitors, according to ABC7. Parts of the park are expected to reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 26, including the El Portal Road entrance off Highway 140, Big Oak Flat Road, and Hetch Hetchy Road.
Sadly, the southernmost part of the park sustained more damage than the rest of the park, which means it's going to take more time to clean up. As per ABC7, this includes Badger Pass, Wawona, Mariposa Grove, South Entrance, and Wawona Road. These areas will unfortunately be closed until further notice, but those interested can stay up-to-date on openings by following the National Park Service on Twitter.
Wind damage aside, though, Yosemite National Park's visiting hours are still limited due to the ongoing pandemic. According to ABC News, only "day visitors" are being admitted as of right now, with campgrounds and lodges closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It seems as though camping will remain closed until vaccines are more widespread, but full day access across the park should be open within a few weeks.