It was unclear Friday when officials would be able to reopen the Highway 140 entrance to Yosemite National Park, which was blocked a day earlier by a rock slide that sent huge boulders and debris crashing onto the roadway, a spokeswoman said.
The U.S. Geological Survey worked Friday to assess the stability of the area, a step needed before a plan can be made on how to safely remove the rocks and reopen the road, park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said.
The rock slide occurred about 5:45 a.m. Thursday near the park’s Arch Rock Entrance Station, located near the Merced River. The area, which has seen heavy precipitation in recent days, was near the site of the Dog Rock Fire that burned in October 2014.
Mayer said it was unclear whether the rock fall was related to extreme weather or fire-scarred terrain. She noted that rock slides happen year-round in Yosemite, and officials may never know the cause of many of them that occur in remote areas.
Highway 140, also known as El Portal Road, remained closed from the park boundary to the junction with Highway 120, also known as Oak Flat Road. Motorists are allowed onto Highway 41, Highway 120 west and roads within Yosemite Valley, but are required to have chains in their vehicles in case road conditions warrant their use.
Lodging and other facilities on Highway 140 were available in El Portal, including Cedar Lodge and Yosemite View Lodge.
Kaci Lutz, a public information officer for the California Highway Patrol, said the closure of Highway 140, along with other factors, likely would increase traffic on Highway 41 on Friday evening and throughout the weekend. The recent reopening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino also may contribute to the flux in traffic, she said.
“People need to just be patient and be prepared to put chains on,” she said.
For the most current road conditions, call 209-372-0200. Press option “1,” then “1” again to go directly to the road conditions report.