Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic

Kurt Repanshek's picture

Opening the Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park is as much-awaited as is the clearing of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. This short video gives you an idea of what Yosemite crews must do to clear the road.

You can check on the progress of clearing the Tioga Road at this site.


great video learned much and enjoyed it also

enjoyed seeing this. now I appreciate govt and contractors even more! glad we'll be spending more this year than previous 8 to update some of our parks. money well spent.

How much CO2 and other noxious pollutants does this Caterpillar and those like it belch into the pristine park air of Yosemite, Glacier, and Crater Lake? How many decibels assail the parks' solitude? (I'm sure it's more than a tourist talking on a cell phone at the Grant Tree.) How much oil does a Caterpillar consume and leak? How can the NPS warn about melting glaciers while using CATs to clear the roads in the same park as the melting glaciers?

And NPT readers want to ban cell phones in national parks.

NPT readers believe WalMart and Verison are the devil incarnate.

How about Caterpillar, Inc.?

Caterpillar, Inc. obbied on bill S.148, a bill to establish the Paterson Great Falls National Park in the State of New Jersey.

Caterpilliar, Inc. also lobbied on the Iraq Supplemental Spending bill and the Defense Appropriations Bill, which provides for construction equipment and civil engineering support equipment.

Where's the outrage?

Frank, you make some valid points here about the exhaust end of the process, but it amounts to implying that, since park maintenance and repair activities cannot be accomplished without adversely impacting the environment, they ought not be done. Or do you consider keeping Tioga Road open a non-essential activity? If that's the case, you need to consider the outrage that would result if the NPS were to fail to keep open the only east-west road through the park. I'm sitting here trying to image a horde of laborers hand-shoveling that snow off the road. I can't quite get my mind wrapped around that one.

Wish I had the RAM & connection speed to watch the video. The machine in the still photo is a rotary snowplow, probably made by Idaho-Norland and not Caterpillar. Frank C's point about pollution is doubly valid, however. Most rotaries have two large diesels, one to spin the auger and one to move the truck. They're also very costly to maintain in these budgetary hard times. Blown and leaking hydraulic lines are common and the expensive auger blade can be easily damaged by hidden rocks in the snow. I recall crossing the just opened gravel one-lane Tioga road on a family vacation one August back in the 50's. I'll bet they let most of it just melt out then and Yosemite Park somehow survived.

Here at Mt. Rainier, the NPS is busily clearing the Paradise Valley Road, with snowbanks almost twice as high as those shown in the Yosemite photo. Bulldozers working in tandem with the rotaries push much of the snow over the downhill side, resulting in hundreds of snapped off trees. This expense and damage is to establish a three-mile loop from the already accessible Paradise area.

Thanks for the links!
Have a planned backpack for a week or so along the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne beginning June 21st.
The North Cascades Highway (access to the national park) here in Washington is now open!
Here is a link with the pictures.
Time to give the snowshoes a spring workout!


Just a correction to your choice of words on your 4/25 reply to Frank. Those plows in Yosemite do not KEEP the Tioga Road open - they reopen it in the spring. The road closes every fall after the first significant snowfall - usually in early November. The goal is usually to get the road reopened by Memorial Day, but depending on snowfall, it sometimes happens earlier, sometimes later. Yes, it is a vital east-west link across the Sierra, but Mother Nature has a say in the practicality of a year-round highway.

Good catch, Liz. That was a bad choice or words, alright.