Mineral King Road opening delayed and other holiday weekend updates

On the morning of Monday, May 20, there was a new dusting of snow on Case Mountain, southeast of Three Rivers, at 6,800 feet elevation.

The Mineral King Road, which traditionally opens the Wednesday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, remains closed and gated at this time with no opening date announced by Sequoia National Park. Snow on the roadway, debris, hazard trees, and inclement weather are hampering progress on clearing the remote mountain road.

Silver City Mountain Resort, located at mile 22 along the 25-mile road that ends at an elevation of 7,800 feet, opened Friday, May 17, for the summer season. It has been cold, wet, and snowy ever since the opening day.

The two area campgrounds, Atwell Mill and Cold Springs, also won’t be open for Memorial Day. The scheduled opening day for these campgrounds and the West Mineral King water system is Friday, June 21.

Going backpacking?

While the Mineral King Road is closed, the Mineral King Ranger Station will not be open to the public and will not be issuing wilderness permits. 

Snow is present within the Mineral King valley and trails leading out of the valley. If you choose to continue your trip while the road remains gated and closed you can obtain your permit and the code to the Lookout Point boundary gate at the Ash Mountain Wilderness Office behind the Foothills Visitor Center Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Note that the Conifer Gate below Atwell Mill will remain locked and chains may be required to reach this gate. Parking at the gate will add approximately 7 miles of walking to trips beginning from trails in the Mineral King Valley. 

The Wilderness Office will also help find other alternatives for those with reservations. 

  • You can cancel your permit and obtain a refund.
  • Personnel can change your reservation to a trailhead with reservations available for the same time (may be limited choices due to the holiday weekend)

    The Mineral King Road, still snow-covered in late May. (National Park Service photo)
  • Personnel can change your reservation to another date with reservations available for the same or another trailhead.

Driving in Sequoia

Starting Memorial Day weekend and through the summer, long lines of cars have extended from the entrance stations. On the busiest days cars have waited in line for over an hour to get through. Parking in most areas of the parks has also become crowded. To avoid long waiting periods it is recommended to arrive to the entrance station prior to 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. and have your method of payment ready when you arrive at the gate. Having snacks, water, and a full tank of gas is also recommended.

Visitors are encouraged to purchase their park pass online prior to visiting. This will save time at the entrance gate. 

Once in the park, free shuttles will take you from the Giant Forest area to Lodgepole, Wuksachi, and back. Driving your own vehicle from site to site increases traffic congestion and pollution. Shuttles are free and most operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check the park newspaper or website for up-to-date shuttle information and times.

On weekends and holidays, and during winter storms, Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is closed to personal vehicles. Access that area by shuttle, bicycle, or on foot.

More road updates

Over in the main part of Sequoia National Park, the between-the-parks portion of the Generals Highway is open with ice and snow warnings. Travelers must carry chains or cables in their vehicle due to the unpredictable stormy weather but as of Wednesday, May 22, the Generals Highway is open, clear, and no chains are required to reach Giant Forest. The Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is currently closed to vehicles.

It’s the same story over on the Grant Grove side in Kings Canyon National Park. Chains/cables must be in the vehicle, but the road is open and clear with no installation of chains necessary (as of Wednesday, May 22). The Panoramic Point Road is closed.

For updated road conditions as they happen, call 559-565-3341, press 1, then press 1 again.

READ MORE: Sequoia-Kings Canyon campground opening dates.

In other areas of the Tulare County mountains, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest will not be open for Memorial Day weekend. This area, which includes campgrounds, roads, trails, and its infrastructure, received considerable damage from winter storms. Cal Fire crews are working to remove downed trees, repair broken water systems, and mitigate hazards.

On the Western Divide Ranger District of Giant Sequoia National Monument, the Trail of 100 Giants is open for the season. This is the most popular attraction anywhere in Giant Sequoia National Monument. It’s a 1.3-mile, accessible-to-all, interpretive trail with giant sequoias of varying ages and sizes. 

Boyden Cavern on Highway 180 in Giant Sequoia National Monument opened for tours during the weekend of May 18-19. Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park will open Friday, May 24, for the season.

One thought on “Mineral King Road opening delayed and other holiday weekend updates

  • May 23, 2019 at 7:29 am
    Permalink

    Disappointing, to be sure, but this is a result of a very good winter snowpack, and for that, we are grateful!

    Reply

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