This weekend, we did a whirlwind tour through the eastern Sierra Nevadas. We saw a lot of towering mountains and quaint villages, but probably the most surprising thing of all was how snowy it was in eastern Yosemite.

The east side of Yosemite this weekend.

A post shared by Jim Dalrymple II (@jimdalrympleii) on

It was a cold and stormy weekend throughout the central Sierra Nevadas; we hit rain and what seemed to be scattered snowflakes at various points as we climbed higher and higher from the valleys below.

But it wasn’t until we crossed into Yosemite — from the eastern side, near the town of Lee Vining — that we saw this:


Just to be clear, that’s snow piled more than five feet high. (Yes, it was no doubt pushed into that drift by a plow, but it’s still an incredible amount of snow.)

Seeing this amount of snow — especially when we had been in the desert just hours earlier where temperatures where in the 80s — was incredible and our progress through the park slowed considerably as we stopped every few miles to marvel (and take pictures).

This year, California has seen improved snowpack; whereas in 2015 virtually all the snow in the Sierras was gone by April, today snowpack is below average but still existent.


As we made our way down the mountains, it was equally impressive to see how quickly these winter conditions dissipated. Once we made it over the Tioga Pass and began descending the western side of Yosemite temperatures rose quickly and the snow all but disappeared. By the time we made it to the more heavily trafficked parts of the park, it felt like an entirely different season. In fact, I suspect some visitors who came to Yosemite from the west had no idea there were still frozen lakes on the other side of the park.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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