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[Yosemite]

Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park in Winter and most of Spring, when snow is on the ground. Includes visiting in winter, snow play, downhill and nordic skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snow camping.

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Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby Susanne » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:35 am

Hi everybody,
I will be staying in El Portal in March (23rd - 26th) and have a few questions concerning going by car into Yosemite Valley at this time of year.
Are there any requirements the car should fulfill ( eg wheel-drive, tires, ...)? I found that snow chains might be required, is that true for the Valley in March?
Can you tell me anything about snow conditions in general in the Valley around this time? Are the roads to the Valley (CA-140 E, El Portal Rd) easily passable by end of March?
Thank you!
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:24 am

Chains are required to be in the car, as they may have to go on the car at any time.
This march you will find ice and snow. Traction devices for your shoes would be a great idea.
140 is better for avoiding a need for chains, tho that can change at any time if it storms.
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby u2jrmw » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:43 pm

Hi, I'm curious about the chains requirement. I'm planning to visit in mid March, but will watch the weather and not go if there is a hint of 140 requiring chains.

I called the park and spoke to a ranger asking if I needed to carry chains during my visit. She said, no, only under an R1 (in which case my vehicle would be required to actually put them on), she said for example under R0 (as it was today) there is no requirement to have chains. She did say that if the weather changed you could find yourself unable to leave because of a sudden chain requirement. She thought that was unlikely but not impossible on 140.

So now I'm a little confused because I have seen a couple of places that have said you will need to have chains in your vehicle even in R0 situations.
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:53 pm

For us, chains go in the trunk in September along with tarp, gloves, etc for putting them on, and do not come out until late May. There is always a chance of weather, but much more of one during winter months. Yes, the forest service will recommend that going into the mountains you should have chains. The lack of cell phone service in most wilderness areas makes that a smart thing to do.

There were chain requirements on 140 a couple of times, and it also closed due to rocks falling in the road and blocking it. DO check before you come to the park on road conditions. A ton of snow and rain after several years of next to nothing means a lot of erosion is happening, some roads in other parts of the state have had landslides as well.
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby u2jrmw » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:57 pm

Would you say in mid March, only planning to drive on 140 for an overnight visit and only if the forecast is clear that it would still be a good idea to purchase chains? Unfortunately I will be in a rental that prohibits their use and so I would turn around if I ran into weather, now of course there is always the chance of weather coming in especially overnight. I would be reluctant to use them unless it was my only option.
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:00 pm

The garage in YOsemite Village has a limited supply of chains to sell, you could call ahead and see if they might have ones that fit the rental before driving into the park. That way you only need to buy if they are needed.
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby u2jrmw » Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:07 pm

Either that, or I could pick some up along the way just to be on the safe side. Starting to wonder if this trip is a good idea.

I don't know how well you know the area, but currently I am planning on staying in Fish Camp. I know that sometimes the Wawona Road from the valley to Fish Camp can get some snow because it peaks up to 6000 feet. In the case that Wawona Road is R1, would it be any better to take 140 out, head down 49 and then up 41 and come at Fish Camp the other way. I know this is A LOT longer trip, but would that avoid the higher elevation potentially, or does that route also have higher elevations as well?
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Re: Into Yosemite Valley by car in March

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:04 pm

I have had occasion to go in via 49/140 and been driving in a snowstorm in April at Midpines, between Mariposa and El Portal. If you go when the forecast is clear you should be all right. I often take 49/140 because even though it is 10 miles longer into the park than 41 from Fresno, the road is significantly less winding around sharp curves and that means the speed limit for a good bit of it is 55 mph. It is less apt to cause you problems in weather for that reason as well.
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