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Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
16 posts
14 reviews
Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

Hi All,

I am quite confused with the following i read via the Yosemite page: Do i need Chains.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO DRIVING IN THE PARK IF I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH CHAINS?

Yes. Public transportation runs up and down the Hwy 140 corridor from Merced into Yosemite Valley. You can generally reach the town of El Portal without needing chains, and there are bus stops at the hotels in El Portal. YARTS bus service

Does this mean that I am able to drive up my rental car (no chains allowed) up to Midpines or EL Portal to my hotel?

If not, I guess the best way is still stay via YARTS from Mariposa?

Appreciate the advices. Thanks!

4 replies to this topic
San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,915 posts
79 reviews
1. Re: Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

>>Does this mean that I am able to drive up my rental car (no chains allowed) up to Midpines or EL Portal to my hotel?<<

It means that 'generally' (depending on weather), you do not need chains to get to El Portal. But there are no guarantees, of course. The road could still close temporarily during a bad storm. If this were to happen, your option would be the YARTS bus mentioned (or just wait a few hours below the snow level until the road is open).

During the day, keep posted on the road conditions before heading into the mountains.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
71,859 posts
132 reviews
2. Re: Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

Hi

Hwy 140 can have chain restrictions. I think chains were required in Mariposa at least twice last winter. So folks who wanted to drive from Mariposa to El Portal had to put on chains or had 4WD/AWD. But most days, folks were able to safely make that drive in their own cars or rental cars.

Absolutely no one can tell you now what the road conditions will be like on any particular day this winter. You need to check the road conditions and the weather forecast.

There is no 'best' way to visit Yosemite or to reach your hotel.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,410 posts
120 reviews
3. Re: Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

It's not confusing. The park page says exactly what it means. "Generally" means "most of the time." So most of the time, yes, you can get to El Portal without chains. It doesn't say "always," because sometimes you can't.

You are going to a remote, high mountain region that has unpredictable winter weather. Put that road conditions number in your phone and check it frequently in the days leading up to travel and certainly on the day of travel (until you lose cell service somewhere near the park).

Mariposa, California
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
2,706 posts
39 reviews
4. Re: Can I drive to El Portal this winter without chains?

Also there's an added interesting thing this winter, particularly hwy 140 and hwy 41 routes. Because of the Ferguson fire there's a lot of newly burned area so there may be intermittent road closures when it rains. These will hopefully be very short (like a day or maybe even just a couple hours in the morning) while caltrans clears stuff off the road. But my point is...140 may not be as reliable a road as it typically is. We'll know more as storms start to roll in and we see what happens in the burn areas.

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