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Update: Yosemite Attractions Reopen This Week Under COVID-19 Rules

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Update at 4:18 p.m.: Relating to the reopening of many Yosemite National Park attractions Thursday, the park is planning for Tioga Road to reopen next Monday to motorists.

Officials advise that a reservation is required (read on for more details about the online pass process that is being used) to enter the park and use Tioga Road. Bicycles will be allowed beginning this Saturday, again, a reservation is required if entering the park by car to then cycle on the road but a reservation is not required to cycle in.

Original Post at 3:22 p.m.: Yosemite, CA – All primary attractions will open to some extent this week at Yosemite National Park, officials say.

In accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities, park officials share that the park will continue incrementally increasing access and that beginning Thursday, visitors will be able to once again recreate in most areas of the park.

Among the access areas are 800 miles of park trails and enjoy popular destinations like Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy. 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.

Officials note that 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.

The caveat is that a temporary day-use vehicle reservation system is being put in place that currently allows for 1,700 vehicle passes daily. The passes will go on sale through beginning Tuesday at 7 a.m. and sales will continue using this system until the park resumes regular operations.

Passes need to be validated at the park entrance gate on the reservation date and can be used for up to seven days of entry from that point. Officials say the system has been instituted to give the public a reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines as they access the park.

In this initial phase, the park’s target is to allow approximately 50 percent of the average June vehicle entry rate – which equates to about 3,600 vehicle entries each day – with park staff monitoring conditions daily, making adjustments as needed to maintain safe visitors’ conditions.

Some Visitors Exempt From Needing A Day-Use Reservation 

As the park reopens Thursday, those 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 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 need to make a day-use reservation for park entry to access the park.

“There is no place like Yosemite, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back,” Acting Superintendent Cicely Muldoon states. “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.”

As of last Friday, as reported here, visitors who already have wilderness permits or Half Dome permits for Yosemite National Park were able to enter. They must present a physical copy of their wilderness permit at the park entrance gate. They are additionally asked to follow recommended CDC social distancing guidelines; recreate responsibly by following local area health orders; avoid high-risk outdoor activities; not visit if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19.

Park staff will continue monitoring 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. Officials say to follow the additional guidelines below:

— 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 under Leave No Trace rules. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas.

— 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.