DENVER — Ski resorts are bustling with activity. A key highway into Yellowstone is closed because parts of the road have seen more than 25 feet of snow. And campgrounds are feverishly removing snow from campsites to clear the way for visitors.
Welcome to Memorial Day weekend in much of the West.
The traditional kickoff of the summer season will have a decidedly wintry feel in the Rocky Mountains, as well as California's Sierra Nevada, because of a lingering record snowfall.
Epic snowpack in parts of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and California is forcing many tourists to abandon the annual rites of launching their summer holidays with a camping trip.
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Rocky Mountain National Park's popular Trail Ridge Road is closed because of 17-foot snow drifts. Normally, holiday motorists can cruise at altitudes surpassing 11,000 feet but not this year.
In Oregon, some resorts were still trying to dig out cabins — let alone campgrounds — from snowpack.
In other parts of Wyoming, officials have extended winter closures of wildlife management areas to campers. The reason: To protect wildlife from humans because animals are still searching for food at lower elevations.
In California, a historic Sierra Nevada snowpack is making Yosemite National Park's springtime cascading waterfalls especially beautiful — and dangerous, with several accidental drownings already of people who failed to keep away from thundering waterfalls and swollen creeks and rivers.