YOSEMITE — The Ahwahnee Hotel, one of Yosemite National Park's top tourist attractions, was evacuated Wednesday after rocks tumbled off a granite cliff and plunged into the hotel's parking lot.
No one was injured and no buildings were damaged, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
Sixty to 70 people in the hotel when the rock slide occurred were asked to gather on the lawn behind the hotel.
A park geologist was examining the cliff Wednesday evening.
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The Ahwahnee Hotel will remain closed at least through noon Friday, park officials said. The area around the hotel also will remain closed and will be monitored by park personnel in the upcoming days.
Displaced Ahwahnee guests are being accommodated at other lodging facilities in the park and in surrounding communities.
Rocks started falling off the cliff, called Royal Arches, about 5 a.m., Cobb said. Park rangers and visitors heard the early morning rock slide, but didn't see it because it still was dark.
About 2 p.m. Wednesday, rocks began falling again. Three rock slides happened over about two hours, Cobb said.
Rocks the size of microwaves landed in the hotel's parking lot, causing minor to moderate damage to three cars. That's when park officials told guests to leave the Ahwahnee.
"Most of the guests are out doing stuff during the day, so it was probably the best time for it to occur," Cobb said.
Royal Arches sits about 200 feet from the Ahwahnee's main entrance. It's one of several dramatic rock formations that loom over Yosemite Valley.
In October, park officials permanently closed one-third of Curry Village under Glacier Point after the equivalent of 570 dump trucks of rocks hit 17 cabins and forced the evacuation of more than 150 youngsters on a field trip. No one was seriously injured.
Though Yosemite sees a drop in visitors this time of year as school starts, the 82-year-old Ahwahnee is a consistent draw. The hotel remains about 95 percent full throughout the year, Cobb said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2378.