Highway 140 into Yosemite back open after rockslide, will close tonight due rockfall concerns

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Cars filled with eager residents and visitors sat idle as they waited for the gates leading into Yosemite National Park to finally open. (KFSN)

Cars filled with eager residents and visitors sat idle as they waited for the gates leading into Yosemite National Park to finally open.

"It's going to be super exciting to get home and get back into my own house," said Megan, park employee.

At 11:30 Tuesday morning people were finally escorted inside by park rangers.

The entrance into the park from Highway 140 was previously closed after a massive rockfall on Monday. Park officials said crews worked throughout the night to crush the rocks and clear the road.



"It's always that balancing act that we want to get the entrance open, but we also have to be concerned about safety," said Scott Gediman, National Park Service.

Bayley Chadderton , a visitor of the park, said he came all the way from New Zealand to see Yosemite. He thought he was not going to make it inside

"Saw the road closed and we were shocked because we got up early, and it said the park was opening at 8. So we made sure and got here and it was a bit of a shock."

And he almost did not-- while Chadderton arrived just in time to enjoy the snow at the valley floor, park officials said they plan to close the gates to visitors again.

"With current conditions, with rain and now, we're going to go ahead and close the road this evening," said Gediman.

They plan to close the El Portal Road gates to visitors at 6:00 p.m. to make sure another rock fall doesn't occur in the area.

"We can't prevent them and we have to do all that we can to mitigate the risks," said Gediman.

Park officials also plan to monitor the Merced River, they said it crested at about 12 feet but since then has gone down to about seven feet.

Officials also said while there is several triggering factors to rock falls, they do not have an exact reason as to why it happens, but do say they are common. They said if there are no rockfalls overnight they may reopen the entrance Wednesday morning.

"As long as it's safe for visitors to come and we can provide them basic services like water and power, then we will do everything we can to keep the park open," said Gediman.

Park officials said that ground saturation, previous fires, and droughts are all triggering factors of rockfalls, but say they cannot determine the exact reason why they falls.

They also hope to open this road again Wednesday morning, but said the 120 entrance and the 49 entrance will remain open.
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