Reds Meadow Road, All Local Roads Now Open

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

Reds Meadow Road and all of the rest of the high elevation roads near and into Mammoth are now open, according to local land manager officials.

The opening of the road, like all of the Mammoth area high elevation roads, has been seriously slowed by a deep snowpack and a very cold, wet spring that has not allowed the big snowpack to melt as much as it normally would during the month of June.

The result is that there is still several feet of snow on many hiking trails above 9,500 feet.

Deanna Dulen, the superintendent of the monument, noted, however, that not all campgrounds in Reds Meadow Valley are open yet.

"Due to operational challenges associated with winter storm impacts, Devils Postpile National Monument will not reopen its 20-site campground in 2019 (near the Ranger Station)," she said.

There are five U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the immediate area that can accommodate several hundred campers a night, she said.

She said the decision to close the popular, 20-site National Park campground located right next to the river and repurpose it for other uses was based on several reasons.

One, the monument has limited day-use facilities that do not meet the demands of the 150,000 annual visitors, she said. "The existing day-use area is congested and cramped, due to the campground and parking occupying much of the usable space. This continued closure will provide greater access and a higher quality recreation experience for day-use visitors along the riverfront for fishing and picnicking. Visitors of all abilities will have access to the river and more opportunities to enjoy the natural sights and sounds of the area without the more strenuous hiking required by the monument’s other destinations," she said.

Two, in addition, extensive parking congestion occurs in the monument after Labor Day when the mandatory shuttle operations cease and, at times, visitors are turned away due to lack of parking, she said. Often, the current parking capacity of 65 spaces cannot accommodate fall shoulder season visitors, when, on average, 300-500 cars arrive daily. By using the campsites for overflow parking in 2019, many more vehicles can park and fewer vehicles will be turned away.

"With visitors finding new ways to enjoy this riverfront area during recent closures, the benefits of permanently converting the campground to a day-use area have become more apparent," she said. "The monument is interested to hear whether you think the 20-unit campground is the best use of this space or if it should be reimagined for day-use activities. Comment cards are available at the ranger station."