Yosemite National Park, CA and the encompassing valley is a national treasure. No matter the season, there always seems to be a sense of magic surrounding the area. From the towering granite monolith of El Capitan to the ever-iconic Half Dome, Yosemite is a must-see experience.
This fall, you can experience Yosemite with something you rarely see: no crowds. That’s right, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the park has instituted a reservation-based system that limits the number of cars that can enter the park on a given day. Other than limiting cars, the system promotes social distancing, enhances the overall park experience, and causes less stress on the surrounding animals and the environment.
“The park is having a magical moment with less crowding and more wildlife sightings. We might never get the chance to see Yosemite this way again in our lifetimes.”
– Scott Gediman, Yosemite Park Ranger
Reservations for the park are done in 2 tiers. The first tier opens at the beginning of each month for reservations for the following month. 80% of reservations available are released in the first tier. If you’re looking for a Friday or Saturday, you best be on the online reservation system before it opens as the spots fill up in seconds. The reservation costs $35 per car and allows for unlimited entry for seven consecutive days. The second tier is for the remaining 20% of passes available (340 tickets per day), and become available online at 7:00 am Pacific 2 days before your reservation date.
If you’ve ever been to Yosemite, this is welcoming news. While access to our national parks remains paramount, sustainable access is crucial to balance out our experience versus the impact we have on the environment. I’ve been to Yosemite before where it takes hours to get into the park, just to sit behind double-parked tour buses full of tourists, to hike on overcrowded trails. What kind of experience is that? Is that how you would want to experience one of the most epic, awe-inspiring, national parks in the country?
To access the online reservation system for Yosemite, visit recreation.gov.