Most Recreation Sites Open But Expect Snow

Staff Writer

Memorial Day weekend is usually considered to be the beginning of summer for resort towns like Mammoth.
Tioga Pass Road managers strive to open the road into Yosemite National Park by the weekend, land managers rush to try to get roads and campgrounds open, restaurants and retailers scrub and scurry.
It’s just what we do here.
This year, though, Mother Nature is throwing a few curve balls due to a colder than usual April and May that has left some popular recreation areas and facilities still covered in snow.
Trails in the Lakes Basin are still under snow above 9,000 feet and Lake George still has a thin skin of ice on it.
High country trails above 9,000 feet outside of the Basin are still subject to a lot of snow coverage, especially on north slopes.
Tioga Road is open for the season but has been temporarily closing and reopening so often, it's giving people whiplash. Sonora and Monitor pass roads have been in a similar state of flux.
The road to Saddlebag Lake is open, but no facilities are available and there are several feet of snow lining the road.
Reds Meadow road and thus, the Devils Postpile National Monument is several weeks out from opening
It’s almost like the “good old days” when big snowpacks held summer off until July. However, after four drought years, people were finally beginning to adjust to the new reality.
This weekend, they are going to have to readjust again due to a winter snowpack that is almost been stuck in stasis for the past few, chilly weeks.
In addition, another round of cold and snowy or rainy weather is in the forecast for the weekend, although temperatures are expected to climb closer to normal each day from Friday on, according to the National Weather Service.
“Many people are eager to get in the high country right now and have gotten used to the less snowy winters of the past few years,” said Deb Schweizer, the Inyo National Forest’s Public Information Officer. “If you are planning to head out on the trails this weekend, please plan on the snow level to be around 9,000 feet. Hikers should have the skills to navigate in snow. Many trails will be quickly lost under snow. Ice ax and crampons will also be needed in steep terrain.”
She said she has had reports that many people are getting disoriented or lost in the backcountry due to losing the trail because trails are covered with snow. People are also heading out into the backcountry without winter supplies and equipment, she said.
Here are some of the areas to be aware of:
• White Mountains, Schulman Grove/Patriarch Grove: Expect snow along the Patriarch Grove Road to the parking lot so visitors will have to hike to the grove. The road towards Barcroft Gate is closed at the Patriarch Grove turnoff.
• Reds Meadow area: work to open the Reds Meadow Road has begun and the road will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists while hazard tree work is underway. Hikers trying to access Reds Meadow Valley over Mammoth Pass should be aware of ongoing work in the area and be prepared for snow on the pass and in shadowed areas of the trail.
Old Mammoth Road to Lakes Basin: this back road route to the Lakes Basin via Old Mammoth Road is still not open due to patchy snow, although that could change over the weekend.
• Rock Creek Road: the road is open up to the Rock Creek Resort and Pack Station but expect substantial snow after that. Rock Creek Lake is partially ice-covered.
• Whitney Portal Road: ongoing construction work to re-design the popular road is underway. Expect 30 minute delays from 6:30 a.m-6:30 p.m. except on the weekend and on Memorial Day itself.

NOTE: JUST IN - Here is the very latest from the Inyo National Forest on what is open, what is not, and what is about to open as of Friday, May 27:

Mono Lake Ranger District

Roads open: Tioga Pass (Hwy. 120 W), Saddlebag Lake Rd. (snow), Sonora Pass (Hwy 108), Monitor Pass (Hwy 89), Bodie (Hwy 270), Hwy 120 E (Benton), Lundy Canyon, June Lake Loop (Hwy 158), Panum Crater, South Tufa.

Campground closed: Big Bend, Ellery Lake, Hartley Springs, Junction, Moraine, Saddlebag Lake, Saddlebag Trailhead Group Camp, Sawmill Walk-in, Tioga Lake.

Campgrounds open: Aerie Crag, Aspen Grove, Upper Deadman, Lower Deadman Glass Creek, Gull Lake, June Lake, Oh Ridge, Reversed Creek, Obsidian Flat Group, Big Springs, Lower Lee Vining, Lundy Canyon (county).

Silver Lake Campground is closed to reservations until July 7th for paving. Work is underway.

The Mono Basin Visitor Center is open 8:00 am-5:00 pm daily.

Mammoth Ranger District

Roads open: Convict Lake, Hot Creek Hatchery, Inyo Craters, Lakes Basin, Laurel Canyon (snow level 9,000 ft.), Mammoth Creek, Mammoth Scenic Loop.

Road Closed: Devils Postpile National Monument, Reds Meadow, Old Mammoth Rd to Lakes Basin.

Work to open the Reds Meadow Rd. has begun and the road will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists while hazard tree work is underway.

Campgrounds open: Brown’s Owens River (private), Mammoth Mtn. RV Park (Private), New Shady Rest, Sherwin Creek, Twin Lakes (partially opened, hazard tree work), Crowley Lake (BLM), Convict Lake.

Campgrounds closed: Agnew Meadows, Agnew Meadows Group, Agnew Meadows Horse Campground, Coldwater Lake George, Lake Mary, Old Shady Rest Pine City, Pine Glen Family/Group, Devils Postpile (NPS), Minaret Falls, Pumice Flat, Pumice Flat Group, Reds Meadow, Upper Soda Springs.

Devils Postpile Ranger Station is closed. The Mammoth Welcome Center is open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily

White Mountain Ranger District

CARMA restoration work is completed. The area remains closed to allow natural restoration to occur and reveg work will begin in the spring.

Roads closed: White Mt. Rd after Patriarch Grove, substantial snow at Sheep Pass. The spur road to the Patriarch grove is snow covered.

Roads open: Hwy 168, South Lake Rd., North Lake, Big Pine Canyon Rd, Rock Creek Road up to the pack station (expect substantial snow after that), White Mt. Rd. up to the Patriarch Grove, Wyman Canyon Rd. (expect rutted conditions), Silver Canyon Rd.

Campgrounds open: Bitterbrush, Goodale (BLM), Grandview (no water, no trash service, firewood is limited), Pleasant Valley Pit, McGee Creek, Big Meadow, French Camp, Iris Meadow, Horton Creek (BLM), Tuff, East Fork, Cedar Flat Group Camp, Big Trees, Bishop Park, Bishop Park Group Camp, Four Jeffrey, Forks, Intake 2 Walk-in, Intake 2, Pine Grove Sage Flat, Upper Sage Flat Big Pine Creek Rock Creek Lake, Aspen Group Camp, Clyde Glacier Group Camp, Palisade Glacier Group Camp, North Lake, Sabrina, Mountain Glen, Table Mountain Group, Willow.

Campgrounds closed: Mosquito Flat Backpacker, Holiday (opens as needed).

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is open, Friday-Monday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm. It will open seven days/wk. on June 7th.

The White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center’s is open Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 12:00pm, 1:00 pm to 4:30pm. Closed federal holidays.

Mt Whitney Ranger District:

Roads open: Foothill Rd., Division Creek Rd., Haiwee Canyon Rd. (flood damage), Mazourka Canyon Rd., Onion Valley Rd., Sage Flat Rd, Horseshoe Meadow Rd., Whitney Portal Rd.

Whitney Portal Road Construction is underway, expect 30 minute delays from 6:30 am-6:30 pm. No wok on Monday, May 30 (holiday).

Campgrounds open: Boulder Creek RV Resort (Private), Diaz Lake (County), Gray Meadow, Independence Creek (County), Lone Pine, Onion Valley, Portagee Joe (County), Tuttle Creek (BLM), Whitney Portal, Whitney Portal Trailhead.

Cottonwood Lakes/ Pass Trailhead, Horseshoe Meadow Equestrian are open, no water, no services.

The Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.