Update for March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

New snow: 17 inches
Total settled snow depth: 35 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 37°F (March 19)
Low temperature: -5°F (March 19)

Ski Conditions and Weather

It feels like the return to winter in more ways than one. Although Tuolumne Meadows is covered in a fresh blanket of white, all is quiet this chilly, sub-zero morning. Even the songs of spring are subdued. Yosemite National Park is closed.

Gate closed at Tioga Pass with ski tracks and snow on March 20, 2020.
Gate closed at Tioga Pass on March 20, 2020.
But there are still rangers here protecting it and the public. Although most of us wear the same uniform, we have a vast array of duties, all of which are important. Duties range from interpretation, resource management, law enforcement, fee collection, emergency medical services, search and rescue, administration, facilities management, trail and road maintenance, and at the top of the list those who keep the park clean!
One person in snowy conditions doing wildlife survey
Social distancing during a wildlife survey on Dana Saddle on March 21, 2020.

Unlike most employees, we commute to work on skis otherwise we would only get a few feet out the door even in a drought year. But we too can be slowed down significantly on our “commute” by inclement weather or heavy snow sticking to the base of our skis making them feel as heavy as anvils (this is a common phenomenon when the cold new snow is warmed rapidly by the sun). Out here we work around Mother Nature’s schedule. This week we traveled to Tioga Pass to post closure notices and up to the headwaters of the Dana Fork to monitor wildlife. Over the next ten days we will patrol over fifty miles surveying the snowpack for the State of California.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

Although the park is closed, please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this surrounding areas in the Sierra Nevada.

Lone ski track in Tuolumne Meadows on March 22, 2020.
Lone ski tracks in Tuolumne Meadows on March 22, 2020.


Reconnecting with nature in times like these is crucial for one’s physical and mental health. There is beauty to behold around us everywhere even in the biggest of cities. This is the perfect time to take it down a notch for everyone’s safety and take the opportunity to learn the names of your neighbors whether they be people, birds, trees or flowers (from an appropriate distance). This week in Tuolumne Meadows we saw lots of coyote, pine marten, and long-tailed weasel tracks. We also heard red crossbills, northern flicker, and Steller’s jay. We saw an American dipper flitting about the icy waters of the Tuolumne River. One American robin made a brief appearance but realized that it might be a bit early for these elevations. All of these are common residents of Yosemite, but like us humans, each and every one has the potential to offer something special to those around us.

General Information

The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is closed.

Stay healthy and take care of one another. Hats off to the health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic. Let’s have their back by following the guidance of the CDC and local officials.

Dana Meadows with snow on March 20, 2020.
Dana Meadows on March 20, 2020.

Last updated: March 26, 2020

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