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"It's nothing short of devastating": Groveland businesses brace for impact of closure to Yosemite artery

Groveland businesses brace for impact after Highway 120 road closure
Groveland businesses brace for impact after Highway 120 road closure 03:17

GROVELAND -- However quiet it feels at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, it feels silent to Finn Horsley. 

"The waterfalls are full flow, the perfect time to visit Yosemite," says Horsley. "And then this happened."

He and his wife bought the Charlotte Hotel in 2019 and have contended with a pandemic, a big winter, and now this: A flurry of hotel cancellations due to a closed road on the main artery to Yosemite

"I wish I could sugarcoat it," he says. "It's nothing short of devastating. What we've noticed is a serious freeze on new reservations."

Over at the Iron Door Saloon, a normally busy lunch hour feels more like closing time. 

"It's usually I would say we're at a tenth of what we normally see traffic-wise for this weekend so far," says Iron Door owner Corrina Loh.

Even those making day trips and are surprised by the closure.

"We kind of did a sporadic last-minute trip to come up here because why not have a little getaway to the wilderness," says Michael McLean, a Folsom native that came up to the park from Stockton. "Just to find out this place is closed and the map didn't tell us, which sucked."

"We're probably about 2/3 of what we normally would be on the weekends this time of year, outside of Memorial Day weekend which would be much higher than that. But the weekdays are like crickets," Loh mentions.

Instead, the business owners of Groveland have tried new things to make the town itself a destination. 

"The Horn Brewery down the road just started doing trivia night and bingo night during the week," Loh says. "We just started karaoke back up."

"It's good for everyone in town, the locals and tourists, to have a town that's thriving and something that people can enjoy in spite of there being some issues getting into the park," Horsley explains.

So the drinks can keep flowing, and travelers can have a place to stay. 

And when the road opens up, everyone benefits. 

"The waterfalls have never been this stunning," says Horsley. "Again, it was record snowfall. When Tioga Pass reopens, it's gonna be stunning. Truly the range of light that John Muir spoke of."

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