OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home National & State Parks Yosemite Rockfall Fears Close a Third of Yosemite’s Curry Village Tents, Cabins

California's Yosemite National Park

Rockfall Fears Close a Third of Yosemite’s Curry Village Tents, Cabins

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
About a third of the visitor accommodations at Yosemite National Park's Curry Village, including tent cabins, cabins with bath and cabins without bath, will be permanently closed to the public because of the risk of falling rocks, the National Park Service said Nov. 21, 2008.

The decision also permanently closes associated visitor support structures such as a shower house and restrooms, along with 43 concessioner employee housing units.

The park service made the decision based upon an extensive investigation of rockfalls that have occurred above Curry Village, one of the most popular areas in Yosemite National Park.

The latest incident took place on Oct. 7 and 8, 2008, when two rockfalls occurred in Yosemite Valley, affecting the Curry Village area. In resulted in the temporary closure of many of the visitor accommodations until a thorough geologic assessment could be completed.

NPS geologists, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, and other national and international scientists, made the study using the latest scientific mapping and computer modeling techniques. The analysis has shown that approximately 6,000 cubic meters of rock were involved in the events.

"With the increased overall frequency of rockfall over the past few years, in conjunction with the geologic research that has been conducted, the NPS can no longer treat each rockfall as an isolated incident," the park service said in a press release . "Instead, we must look at the area comprehensively and recognize that geologic processes that have shaped Yosemite Valley since the last glaciers receded will continue to result in rockfall."

The park service also said that 36 visitor accommodations (tent cabins and cabins with bath) that had been temporarily closed reopened to the public Nov. 21.

"While the NPS cannot say that the occupancy of these units, and the units never closed, are totally risk free, we firmly believe that the risk remaining at Curry Village is roughly the same level of risk that exists in other areas of Yosemite Valley in which structures are located such as The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Village," the National Park Service said.

OldWestNewWest.Com contacted the park concessionaire about the announced closures.

"DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. is the major provider of hospitality in Yosemite National Park through a concessions contract with the National Park Service, and the 233 units constitutes approximately one-third of the Curry Village lodging inventory," Kenny Karst, public relations manager for the concessionaire, said.

"DNC will continue to provide lodging accommodations to the public for the major portion of Curry Village through our central reservations office at (801) 559-5000 or online at
www.YosemitePark.com," he added.

According to the National Park Service, rockfalls are natural occurrences that have shaped, and continue to shape Yosemite Valley. The natural processes that contribute to rockfall are part of the dynamics of nature. Though impossible to predict or control, ongoing scientific analysis is being conducted to further understand this natural phenomenon.

According to the park service, rockfalls are a dynamic natural process, and are the most powerful geologic agent acting in the park today. Historical records indicate that at least 600 rockfalls have occurred in the park over the last 150 years.

Visitors, the service said, should always be aware of their surroundings while at the park and understand that Yosemite is a wild place. Rockfall hazard zones occur throughout the park near any cliff faces, and rockfalls are inherently unpredictable and may happen at any time.

For personal safety, visitors should pay attention to warning signs, stay off of closed trails, and, if unsure, keep away from the cliffs.

If a visitor sees or hears a rockfall, they should inform park staff or report the event by calling (209) 379-1420.

National & State Parks