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Mother Lode Mountain Passes Close For Winter

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Sonora, CA — Caltrans has decided that the current mountain pass closures will remain so for the winter season.

Specifically, Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass, Highway 89 Monitor Pass, and Highway 108 Sonora Pass are now effectively shuttered until spring 2020 or thereabouts as conditions warrant. Yosemite National Park, which controls Highway 120 Tioga Pass through the park had already decided during a wintry bout before Thanksgiving that route would remain shuttered until the spring thaw.

The Caltrans-controlled routes were last open to vehicle traffic on Thanksgiving but the recent storms and accumulation of snow have necessitated the seasonal closure for the safety of motorists and Caltrans crews. To view snowy conditions before and after a Caltrans crew plow-out of Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass west of Lake Alpine on Thanksgiving Day, click into the image box slideshow.

Typically, the passes remain closed until just before Memorial Day weekend although in recent drought years some did not close for more than a few days or weeks at a time. During extremely wet winters, it obviously takes much longer.

As road conditions can change rapidly in the winter, Caltrans urges motorists to always be prepared to encounter worst-case scenario weather, especially when traveling in areas subject to hazardous conditions.

All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires, should additionally carry chains when traveling during snowy weather; drivers who do not have them on board may not be allowed to proceed past posted highway “chains required” signs. Continuing to travel into a chains-only area without having them or putting them on subjects the driver to being cited and fined.

For the latest highway and chain conditions, click here.


  • Hwy 4 closure gate area