Yosemite National Park is taking steps to reduce crowds this summer as the nation continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The popular California national park will require day-use reservations for anyone hoping to enter the park starting May 21 through the end of September. The system will allow officials to monitor and limit the number of people in the park.
“The health and safety of park visitors, employees, and partners continues to be our number one priority,” the National Park Service said in a press release.
Day-use reservations will be required for all visitors, including annual and lifetime pass holders.
Each reservation, which will be valid for three days instead of the normal seven, allows a single car to enter the park along with all of its occupants.
Visitors staying overnight in the park automatically have day-use permits included in their reservations. That includes anyone with a campground reservation, or those staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Wawona Hotel, or Curry Village. All of the lodging at the park requires reservations.
Entry will also be permitted for those with a Yosemite wilderness permit or Half Dome permit.
Reservations for the summer will be available starting April 21 exclusively at recreation.gov. The initial offering will be for dates through the end of June. Each week, additional dates will be added. The fee to enter the park is $35.
No one without a reservation will be allowed into the park, even if those with reservations fail to show up. The NPS said there is no need to show up at a park entrance hoping for a chance to get in without a reservation.
Yosemite traditionally uses a seven-day reservation system, but the switch to three days this summer is an effort to allow more people into the park.
“In response to public feedback, we are temporarily shortening the period a pass is valid in order to increase the number of reservations available,” the NPS said in a fact sheet. “The three-day pass allows us to offer an additional 950 to 1,850 day-use reservations each week to accomplish a similar level of visitation compared to our traditional seven-day pass.”
Those who do visit Yosemite will find almost everything open as usual. All the hiking trails will be open, and backpacking will be allowed with a wilderness permit.
Tioga and Glacier Point roads are currently closed but expected to open sometime in late May or June.
One of the biggest differences in 2021 compared to past years is the cancellation of shuttles. Shuttles and tours are not operating this year due to lack of staffing. Shared housing for seasonal Yosemite employees has been significantly restricted in an effort to keep employees safe.
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