California’s tourist-flocking Yosemite National Park will reopen this week, which will be an interesting coronavirus case study given the park’s popularity with visitors. Here’s more from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Thursday’s reopening, though, will come with constraints. The number of people admitted to Yosemite will be restricted, likely to about half of normal for this time of year to help prevent the spread of the virus — to 1,700 vehicles per day with an additional 1,900 vehicles let in for overnight stays. Attendance will be controlled by requiring visitors to have advance reservations, obtained on Recreation.gov, the camping booking website.
Several facilities in the park also will remain closed or with limited access.
Here are some more details from the National Park Service on the new regulations:
In accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities, Yosemite National Park will continue to incrementally increase recreational access. Beginning June 11, the park will open all the primary attractions to some extent and visitors will be able to enter Yosemite in a multitude of ways. Visitors will be invited to enjoy 800 miles of park trails and popular destinations including Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch Hetchy.
“There is no place like Yosemite, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back,” said Acting Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. “It’s going to be a different kind of summer, and we will continue to work hand in hand with our gateway communities to protect community health and restore access to Yosemite National Park.”
To increase park access while providing the public a reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines, Yosemite National Park will implement a temporary day use reservation system. In the initial opening phase, the system will offer 1700 vehicle passes each day. Passes are to be validated at the park entrance gate on the reservation date and can be used for 7 days of entry.
These day use vehicle reservations will go on sale through Recreation.gov beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. The day use vehicle reservations system will no longer be used when the park resumes regular operations.
Visitors with a camping or concession-operated lodging reservation, wilderness or Half Dome permit, vacation rental inside the park, and visitors entering via the local public transit system (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS buses)) or with a tour from one of the local businesses that have Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA) will not require a day use reservation for park entry and will also have access to the park beginning on June 11. In this initial phase, the park’s target is to allow approximately 50 percent of the average June vehicle entry rate (which equates to 3,600 vehicle entries each day). The park will monitor conditions daily and will make adjustments as needed to maintain safe conditions for visitors.
For more details, please visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm.
Beginning June 11, overnight camping will be available in Yosemite Valley, as well as lodging provided by Yosemite Hospitality. Retail and food and beverage services will be available, and the park’s visitor center services will be moved outdoors to provide information and education programs. Some facilities and services that have been offered in the past will not be possible this year due to the pandemic. Shuttle buses, High Sierra Camps, and Housekeeping Camp will not open this year. Additional services may be available as conditions warrant.
Visitors who already have wilderness permits or Half Dome permits for trips in Yosemite National Park were able to enter the park beginning on Friday, June 5, 2020. Visitors are required to present a physical copy of their wilderness permit at the park entrance gate and are asked to follow recommended CDC social distancing guidelines to ensure a safe wilderness experience.
We ask visitors to recreate responsibly by following local area health orders, maintaining social distance and avoiding high-risk outdoor activities. Please do not visit if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19. Park staff will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Keep your distance. Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail or in a parking lot. If staying at least six feet from others is not possible, wear a cloth face covering as recommended by the CDC.
Keep it with you. If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
Know your limits. Yosemite National Park is one of the busiest search and rescue parks in the country. Many of these incidents could be avoided with visitors planning and making responsible decisions. During the ongoing health crisis, it is critical to make wise choices to keep our national park rangers and first responders out of harm’s way.
Protect wildlife. Obey speed limits and be aware of wildlife. During the closure, due to lack of vehicular traffic, park rangers have observed more wildlife congregating adjacent to or on internal park roads.
Details and updates on park operations and services will continue to be posted on the park’s official website at www.nps.gov/yose.