Roughly One-Third of Curry Village to Be Permanently Closed in Yosemite National Park

Rockfalls, such as this one, from Glacier Point have spurred Yosemite National Park officials to permanently close to overnight use roughly one-third of Curry Village. USGS photo.

Geologic reports that point to an inherent instability of the Glacier Point cliff face have led Yosemite National Park officials to permanently close roughly one-third of Curry Village to overnight accommodations.

"With the increased overall frequency of rockfall over the past few years, in conjunction with the geologic research that has been conducted, the NPS can no longer treat each rockfall as an isolated incident," Yosemite officials announced Friday. "Instead, we must look at the area comprehensively and recognize that geologic processes that have shaped Yosemite Valley since the last glaciers receded will continue to result in rockfall.

"Based on the above information, the NPS has decided to close 233 visitor accommodations (tent cabins, cabins with bath, cabins without bath) permanently. This will also permanently close associated visitor support structures (shower house, restrooms, etc.) and 43 concessioner employee housing units. This accounts for approximately one third of the units in Curry Village available to park visitors."

The decision comes just days after The Associated Press reported that in recent years there have been an increasing number of rockfalls from Glacier Point down towards the village and its camp of tent cabins.

Along with announcing the permanent closure of 233 of the village's 618 units, Yosemite officials also said they were reopening three-dozen tent cabins and cabins with bath that had been temporarily closed in the wake of two rockfalls that occurred early last month. But with a caveat.

"While the NPS cannot say that the occupancy of these (36) units, and the units never closed, are totally risk free, we firmly believe that the risk remaining at Curry Village is roughly the same level of risk that exists in other areas of Yosemite Valley in which structures are located such as The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Village," said the park release.

"Rockfalls are natural occurrences that have shaped, and continue to shape Yosemite Valley. The natural processes that contribute to rockfall are part of the dynamics of nature. Though impossible to predict or control, ongoing scientific analysis is being conducted to further understand this natural phenomenon."

Park officials say the closures mean nearly 160,000 guests per year will not find a bed in Yosemite Valley.

Comments

I believe that permanent closure of these 233 units at Curry Village is the right thing to do.

On the other hand, the NPS estimate "...nearly 160,000 guests per year will not find a bed in Yosemite Valley" is an apparent exaggeration. I can only reproduce this estimate using a series of rather extreme assumptions, such as full double occupancy per unit for 350 days per year, with no vacancies available at any other facility in the Valley. A more realistic estimate should reveal a substantially lower number of guests per year being denied a bed due to the recent decision to close unsafe facilities.

When I stayed at Curry Village last month, more than 260 units were closed due to rockfall. Nevertheless, a good fraction of the unheated tent cabins that were open for public occupancy remained vacant. I found this to be especially true during the week-days of this off-season period. Partial occupancy of the unheated tent cabins at Curry Village is likely to prevail throughout the winter months, regardless of how many units are closed because they might be in the trajectory of rockfall from Glacier Point.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830