Destination California: Yosemite National Park

Destination California

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (KSEE/KGPE) — After lifting its COVID-19 closure, Yosemite National Park put in a number of new measures to minimize potential spread. Since reopening, Californians from all over have been making their way to the park.

To make the trip to the park, though, you have to prepare ahead of time. At least through July, everyone will need to make a day use reservation online at recreation.gov.

If you arrive at any of the entrances and you don’t have a reservation, you will be turned away.

This temporary reservation system is used to help keep the park at half the usual occupancy, which is about 1,700 cars.

Aside from the beautiful sights, like the iconic Tunnel View, people are loving the extra space.

Matthew White visited the first day the park reopened with his family. The SoCal natives were in the Bass Lake area when they heard the closure was being lifted, so they made a reservation as soon as they could.

“It’s a good controlled amount. The last time I was [at Tunnel View], it took us 15 minutes just to even take a picture here because there were so many people in the way,” he said.

The extra space is a comfort given we’re still in a pandemic. Park staff are encouraging CDC guidelines like social distancing all over the park.

Staff’s precautions are most visible in Yosemite Village in the valley. The visitor center has transitioned outside, the Village Store now has a one-way entrance and exit, and the shuttles aren’t running.

Given the changes, spokeswoman Jamie Richards recommends you do your research on the park’s website (nps.gov/yose) as soon as you have a confirmed reservation.

“Think about what kind of activities your family would like to do,” she said. “We have detailed information to help you plan your trip, so that you can have a fun, safe and exciting trip when you get here.”

It may be a different way to enjoy the park, but none of it takes away from the natural beauty.

“It is so nice, it’s good to be out here, especially with the whole lockdown,” Cheng Saechao, a Bay Area native, said. “It’s good to be out in the air and nature.”

There are some cases where you won’t need a day use reservation to enter the park.

  • If you have a camping or lodging reservation.
  • You have a wilderness or Half Dome permit.
  • You got into the park via a tour from a local business.
  • You got into the park through the YARTS system.

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