Beginning Monday, February 12, Manzanar’s 3.2-mile auto tour road will be closed for paving. The project is expected to last until late April. Visitors can still explore the site on foot and/or drive to the camp cemetery via dirt roads on the north and west boundaries of the site.
The current road surface is dirt and subject to dust, erosion, and occasional flooding. The project will restore the road to its World War II-era appearance when the camp’s streets were hard surfaced. It will also improve access and safety and help preserve historic resources by clearly delineating where visitors should drive. Paving the road also addresses deferred and future maintenance. Correcting low, flood-prone areas will eliminate annual grading and repairs.
According to Superintendent Bernadette Johnson, “This project has been a long time coming, but there’s no better time than now. The number of people visiting Manzanar each year is increasing dramatically.” “We apologize for the inconvenience to visitors now,” Johnson continued, “but this project will benefit site visitors for years to come.”
While Manzanar does not collect entrance fees, the paving project is funded by entrance fees paid at other National Park Service sites around the country. A small business contractor, S.T. Rhoades, Inc., of Redding, California will complete the project, purchasing materials from Owens Valley businesses.
While the road is completely closed, the visitor center is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. It features extensive exhibits and a 22-minute introductory film, Remembering Manzanar. Admission is free. Nearby, a World War II-era mess hall, two reconstructed barracks, and a latrine interpret the challenges of daily life. Visitors who choose to explore Manzanar on foot should wear sturdy shoes, hats, sunscreen, and carry water. See a ranger for more information.
Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, please call 760-878-2194 ext. 3310 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/manz. Manzanar is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.