FRESNO, Calif. -- Yosemite officials are urging people planning to visit the park this weekend to make alternative travel plans as the entire central Sierra Nevada region is expecting to get hit hard by a storm.
On Thursday, the National Park Service took the unusual step of announcing the Yosemite Valley will be closed to park visitors on Friday, April 6 at 5:00 p.m.
Access to the Yosemite Valley is typically open to visitors 24-hours a day.
An atmospheric river is expected to drop 4 inches of rain in the foothills. There's a possibility of mudslides and roads being taken out.
Forecasters say the Merced River at Pohono Bridge at the entrance to the park is expected to rise close to 15 feet. That's well over the flood stage level of 10 feet.
All campgrounds and visitor lodging in Yosemite Valley will close Friday afternoon and reservations for Friday evening, April 6, and Saturday evening, April 7, have been canceled.
Access to Yosemite Valley will be closed along the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) at the Foresta Road Junction, along with the Wawona Road (Highway 41) at Chinquapin, and along Highway 140 at the Park boundary in El Portal.
After the storm passes, the National Park Service says roadway and facility conditions in the park will be assessed and a timeline will be determined when Yosemite Valley will reopen to park visitors.
Visitor services and campgrounds will remain open in Wawona, Hodgen Meadow, Crane Flat, and El Portal. The Big Trees Lodge, the El Portal Market, and the El Portal gas station are anticipated to remain open during the storm.
But the National Park Service warns that any roadways and park facilities may close at any time for visitor and employee safety.
Yosemite Valley to close Friday in unusual move by park service