Campgrounds to close in Yosemite Valley starting Monday amid forecasted flooding

As of May 1, Yosemite Park had more than double the average amount of snow for this time of year.

Vince Ybarra Image
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Yosemite National Park closes some campgrounds over flooding concerns
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Yosemite National Park is closing some campgrounds that sit along the Merced River.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- Yosemite National Park is closing some campgrounds that sit along the Merced River. It comes as the snowpack continues to melt. The park is concerned about potential flooding.

Empty picnic benches and camp spaces are what you'll see in some parts of Yosemite National Park.

Park Officials said a record snowpack in the mountains has created worrying conditions at some campgrounds. Shelly and Pete Flath are from Dana Point. They drove up to the park on Sunday, only to be told to leave Monday morning. They said it's been a string of bad luck this year.

"We went skiing in Mammoth. Gosh, a couple of times this year. So, we got snowed in. They've had record snow this year too. It's funny, the snow that snowed us in is now flooding us out." said Flath.

She said they are making the best of it.

"It's worth it. Yosemite is magical, so it's ok. You know, we'll make the best of it." said Flath.

The Flath's said they were able to secure another campground.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone.

"To come to Yosemite was like the big part of our trip. Coming here this morning, getting kicked out from last night late. It was kind of disappointing for us, like we're a bit. Yeah, disappointed," said camper Antoine Llauffer.

He and his best friends traveled over 6,200 miles from Switzerland to California. Now, they will head to Sequoia National Park, where they have secured a campsite.

Park Spokesperson Scott Gediman said they are working closely with weather experts to monitor potential flooding.

"It's wonderful to get all the snow, and we certainly need it. But of course, the snow melts, and it comes down to Yosemite Valley and creates a lot of wonderful things, such as Yosemite Falls, the waterfalls in the Merced River. But also, with this warm weather, the river levels rise." said Gediman.

The park gauges the flow of water at Pohono Bridge. Once the water level reaches ten feet, that's flood stage. Flowing water hit that level in the early morning hours of Monday.

"We've closed the lower pines and North Pines campgrounds effective today. And housekeeping camp. We've got all the people to know that, unfortunately, their reservation has been canceled, and we're just gonna monitor day by day," said Gediman.

About two hundred reservations were canceled on Monday. When reservations are canceled, campers will get a full refund.

Gediman said future campers should monitor their website and social media platforms to stay up to date on closures.

Water levels are consistently going up and down. And while they hate to kick people out of campsites, it's better to keep people safe from flooding.

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