‘It’s good to be out here’: visitors revel in Yosemite’s beauty first day after COVID-19 closure ends

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Reservations will be needed to enter the park at least through the month of July

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California (KGPE) — Yosemite National Park reopened further Thursday, allowing more people inside, as long as they had a reservation.

The park has been closed since March 20 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, there are a number of changes within the park to mitigate the potential spread of the virus.

The first notable change is right at an entrance. Once you drive up, a park ranger will ask you if you have a day use reservation. They have to be made in advance on recreation.gov.

So, no reservation means no entry.

Throughout the day, there were a steady stream of cars at the south entrance. The park’s beauty drawing people from all over the state.

“It is so nice, it’s good to be out here,” said Cheng Saecha, who visited from Richmond in the Bay Area. “Especially with the whole lockdown, it’s good to be out here in nature.”

The lack of crowds was a welcome sight. Right now, the park is only allowing 1,700 vehicles per day into the park, which is about 50% of the usual traffic in June.

It’s helping make every spot, like the popular and usually crowded Tunnel View, an easy thing to include in your trip.

“It’s like, a good controlled amount. The last time I was here, it took us 15 minutes just to even take a picture here,” said Matthew White, who visited the park with some family from Southern California.

Yosemite Village in the Yosemite Valley has the biggest cluster of noticeable modifications. Park rangers are now stationed outside of the visitor center and all the signs at the shuttle stops have been covered since that’s not running at this time.

All bathrooms are open, however, if one is closed then you’ll porta potties and hand washing stations.

Given the number of changes, park spokeswoman Jamie Richards recommends to start preparing as soon as your reservation is confirmed.

“Think about what kind of activities your family would like to do. We have detailed information to help you plan your trip [on our website],” Richards said. “So that you can have a fun, safe and exciting trip when you get here.”

Social distancing and other CDC guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 prevention are heavily encouraged while in the park.

There are some cases where you won’t need a day use reservation to enter the park:

  • If you have a camping or lodging reservation.
  • If you have a wilderness or Half Dome permit (these permit holders have been allowed in the park since June 5.)
  • If you entered the park via a tour from a local business.
  • If you entered the park via YARTS, which is the park’s public transit system.

You can find more information by clicking here.

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