120 visitors trapped by snow in Sequoia National Park freed by rangers


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VISALIA, Calif. – More than 120 visitors and staff at a resort in the Sequoia National Forest were freed after being trapped for days by heavy snowfall, authorities said Friday.

Between 4-8 feet of snow fell at Montecito Lake Resort this week. The Sierra Nevada resort is above 7,000 feet.

It’s unknown when authorities were contacted by resort staff. The Associated Press reported that the guests had been snowbound for five days.

On Wednesday, Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks rangers used heavy equipment to clear an 8-mile stretch of snow and more than 20 downed trees that were blocking access to the resort, rangers said.  

All resort guests were safe and accounted for, officials said. Supplies requested by the guests were delivered Thursday morning to “ease their extended stay,” rangers said.

“Forest and park service crews cleared the final path to the lodge by 6 p.m. (Thursday) and park service personnel began escorting the stranded visitors down the mountain at approximately 6:30 p.m.,” said Joe Gonzales, forest service incident commander. “The first convoy included 25 vehicles and 92 guests.”

More snow is expected this weekend and could add to dangerous driving conditions.

Tulare County Sheriff’s Office recommends that visitors stay out of the area until it is cleared and safe for people to return. 

“We appreciate TCSO’s valuable recommendations, the offers of snow removal equipment and assistance responding to family member’s calls of concern,” Gonzales said.

The upcoming storm is expected to create hazardous conditions with falling trees and branches, power outages, and slick roads, rangers said. 

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks aren’t the only areas facing weather woes. 

Earlier this week, roads to Yosemite National Park were closed due to snow and fallen trees. Some roads have since opened, but more snow is expected. 

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