Yosemite to require reservation when it reopens this week; passes available starting Tuesday

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The valley floor at Yosemite National Park is seen in this undated photo. (Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

SAN DIEGO — Yosemite National Park will implement a reservation system to limit crowds as it prepares to reopen all of its primary attractions starting Thursday, officials said Monday.

The announcement marks another step in the park’s phased reopening and comes just days after those with existing wilderness or Half Dome permits were allowed back in following the monthslong coronavirus-related closure.

“There is no place like Yosemite, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back,” Acting Supt. Cicely Muldoon said in a news release. “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 comply with health guidelines, Yosemite will reduce daily crowds by pivoting to a temporary day-use reservation system, offering 1,700 vehicle passes each day in the initial phase, according to the news release.

“Passes are to be validated at the park entrance gate on the reservation date and can be used for 7 days of entry,” the release stated.

Starting 7 a.m. Tuesday, visitors will be able to obtain a reservation by going to the website Recreation.gov. The reservation fee is $2.

The system will be in effect until regular park operations resume, officials said.

Some visitors, however, will not be required to have a day-use reservation to enter the park, including those with with a camping or concession-operated lodging reservation, a wilderness or Half Dome permit, and anyone with a vacation rental on park grounds.

Visitors utilizing Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System buses or who are with a tour from local businesses that have commercial use authorizations will also be exempt.

For its initial phase, the park is looking to halve its average June vehicle entry rate, which is normally about 3,600 vehicles daily, according to officials.

The Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch Hetchy are among the areas that will be open to the public once more.

Overnight camping, lodging, retail, and food and beverage services will be available starting Thursday. The park’s visitor center is also reopening but is being moved outdoors for the time being.

Visitors are encouraged to follow the area’s health orders, maintaining 6 feet of social distance from others outside their household and — when that’s not possible — wear a facial covering. Those who feel ill or were recently exposed to COVID-19 should stay home.

More information on the national park’s health and safety measures, as well planning information, can be found here.

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