A rockfall that came down on Big Oak Flat Road in Yosemite National Park in January did more damage than initially thought, and access into the Yosemite Valley via the road will be impossible for more than a month while crews work round-the-clock to repair it.
The rockfall occurred January 22 amid several days of storm weather. It forced officials to close the road between the Foresta Junction on Highway 120 (Big Oak Flat Rd.) and the Highway 120/140 (El Portal Road) Junction while it was cleaned up and the road repaired.
While the road was soon reopened, park officials now say the route will close at 8 a.m. on Febraury 29 between the Foresta Road Junction on the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) and the El Portal Road (Highway 140) junction so crews can begin additional repairs.
A park release said the "damaged section is not paved and needs permanent repairs to allow for safe travel."
Federal Highways Administration engineers "determined that there was extensive structural damage to the roadway necessitating a total rebuild of the affected section," the release added. "Crews will be working below the steep slope in the rockslide area seven days per week, 20 hours per day, in order to expedite the repair of the damaged section of the road."
The closure is expected to last into April but be done before the Easter weekend holiday, the release said.
Yosemite Valley will continue to be accessible via the El Portal Road (Highway 140) coming from Merced/ Mariposa and via Wawona Road (Highway 41) coming from Fresno/ Oakhurst. The Foresta Road, between Foresta and El Portal, is not accessible.
The Big Oak Flat Entrance Station along the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) via Groveland, will remain open. Visitors passing into Yosemite via Highway 120 will have access to Hodgdon Meadows Campground, the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, and the Crane Flat area. Hetch Hetchy also remains accessible along Highway 120.