Yosemite reopens.

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rlown
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Yosemite reopens.

Post by rlown » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:31 am

After being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yosemite National Park is ready to reopen as soon as next Wednesday or Thursday, but the plan hinges on state health officials granting approval for campsites and hotels to reopen in the surrounding communities to handle many of the overnight visitors.

A June 1 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials from the leaders of Mariposa, Mono, Tuolumne and Madera counties urges approval, and says that under a plan developed by park officials, Yosemite is prepared to reopen “on or about June 11.”

The park, an international tourist destination renowned for its massive water falls, granite rock walls and Sierra forests, closed March 20. The first major step to welcoming back visitors begins Friday, when parks officials will allow people with overnight wilderness backpacking permits and permits to climb Half Dome, to enter the park.

“We have been doing our best to incrementally increase access to the park,” said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman. “Employees are coming back to work. Everybody is excited. Of course, our paramount concern is the safety of our visitors and employees, but we have everything from physical signs to enhanced cleaning. We are taking as many precautions as possible to prepare for it.”

Hotels, restaurants and other facilities in Yosemite will not be open Friday when the first few visitors with wilderness permits and Half Dome permits arrive.

“There will be no commercial services,” Gediman said. “We are asking anybody with one of these permits to bring all of their food, their beverages, their supplies, and a full tank of gas.”

Meanwhile, another iconic Sierra Nevada destination, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is scheduled to open Thursday, although campgrounds and the visitor center there will be closed.

Gediman said Yosemite workers began putting up the cables on Half Dome Tuesday. They allow hikers to more safely scale the sheer granite slope to the top of the famed monolith, a strenuous hike that can take 12 hours or more round-trip from the Yosemite Valley floor. Information about obtaining permits for overnight backpacking in Yosemite’s wilderness back country, or for day-hiking Half Dome are available at the parks’s website.

Anyone arriving at the park without a wilderness or Half Dome permit in the next few days will not be allowed to enter, Gediman said.

He did not offer specifics about when the wider park will open. Parks officials have drawn up a plan and shared it with local county supervisors and business leaders that will require all day-use visitors to obtain reservations online first, with the number of visitors limited to 50% of the park’s usual capacity to help social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

That plan also calls for not running shuttle buses in Yosemite Valley. The Ahwahnee Hotel and Yosemite Valley Lodge would be open, along with two campgrounds, North Pines and Upper Pines. Trails and parking lots also would be open.

But the exact opening date has been unclear for weeks.

Aramark, the park’s concession company, has posted on its website that pre-existing reservations for hotels and tours in the park are cancelled, with full refunds, through June 10.

County supervisors who have been briefed on the plans say they have been meeting weekly with each other and parks officials, and in recent days have met with Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

They are asking Angell and Newsom to relax rules that currently only allow essential workers such as doctors to stay at local hotels, and to issue guidelines to reopen campgrounds. Already, they say, crowds have arrived since Easter on sunny weekends, and with few places to stay, have camped illegally, left trash and even caused several small fires in counties around Yosemite.

Yosemite reopening plan includes fewer visitors, required reservations
“We need to get campgrounds open and we need to get our hotels running so that when the park opens we can handle it. The people are coming anyway,” said Kevin Cann, chairman of the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors.

Roughly 70% of Yosemite’s overnight park visitors don’t stay in the park, but rather stay outside it, he noted.

Cann, who worked at Yosemite for 18 years, including as deputy superintendent, said that Yosemite can open when it wants with or without California’s permission because it is federal property. The Trump administration has been slowly pushing national parks to reopen, and has reopened Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other famed parks in recent weeks. But Yosemite officials and county leaders have worked together to come up with health guidelines to reduce political friction and to reduce the chances of an outbreak of COVID-19 which could force the park to close again.

“They are ready to go any time after June 10th or 11th,” Cann said. “The superintendent says they want to get a couple of days in before a weekend. That makes total sense.”

State health officials have not said when or whether they might grant approval for the gateway communities’ hotels and campgrounds to reopen. In recent weeks, however, Newsom has allowed churches, barbershops, dine-in restaurants and summer camps to reopen.

“Everybody is waiting for the state to give us the green light to open lodging and we’re not getting it,” said Stacy Corless, chairwoman of the Mono County Board of Supervisors. “People are coming anyway. And you can’t blame them when you think of the mental health impact and the solace and peace people find in the mountains, on their public land. People are coming and we need to be able to accommodate the visitation.”

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c9h13no3
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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:09 am

Ugh, day use permits sounds like you'll need to be running bot in order to get into the park.
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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by CentralCalHiker » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:22 pm

c9h13no3 wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:09 am
Ugh, day use permits sounds like you'll need to be running bot in order to get into the park.
When people say this (usually about campgrounds), do they mean that there are people out there using bots to auto-reserve for them, buying them third party, or just using a service that texts them when there is a campground/daypass/etc available?

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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by SSSdave » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:36 pm

In order for this to work, the wise thing to do will be to greatly increase numbers of trash containers and dumpsters even though that has historically been resisted in part because of costs of removal when budgets are dismal. However it must be done as it is rather evident in this era with enormous littering in urban regions that significant numbers of visitors are flagrant lazy pigs.

I'll be interested in going to the valley once this gets some momentum just to see what visitors actually end up doing since the majority just tend to drive or shuttle the loop road once or twice then spend most of the day puttering around and people watching at either Yosemite Village, Yosemite Lodge, Curry Village. Without much of that open except for actual lodging, and no shuttle buses, there will be a whole lot of people milling around bored that even if they bring food/drinks, I'll bet most are soon going to become hungry and thirsty, especially for beer. Then some will drive down to El Portal and find the little store out of booze, go nuts, and drive away. All this said yes more will be at the scenic pullouts and hiking trails that is a good thing.

People at the campgrounds are probably going to be wise enough to bring most supplies but still am betting many will underestimate how much booze they expected to drink and will end up leaving prematurely as Mariposa and Oakhurst are a long ways. (Note am not an alcohol person.) An enterprising person could probably make a lot of money on the sly selling beer and ice cream. Ice for coolers won't be an issue as people can just fill up from the icy river water.

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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:59 pm

CentralCalHiker wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:22 pm
When people say this (usually about campgrounds), do they mean that there are people out there using bots to auto-reserve for them, buying them third party, or just using a service that texts them when there is a campground/daypass/etc available?
I imagine the first 2, but I don't speak for everyone.
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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by BlueInGreen » Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:14 pm

Looks like Tioga's still closed; anyone have a guess around when that'll open up? Should be really early this season.

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c9h13no3
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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by c9h13no3 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:46 pm

BlueInGreen wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:14 pm
Looks like Tioga's still closed; anyone have a guess around when that'll open up? Should be really early this season.
It’s been snow free for at least a week, so they’re either waiting for the park to open, or doing construction.
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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by LMBSGV » Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:56 pm

They have announced the park "phased reopening" beginning June 11.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm

The day use permits go on sale tomorrow at 7:00 am.
Day-use reservations are only available via recreation.gov. Reservations will go quickly; be sure to be logged in and ready to get a reservation promptly at 7 am Pacific time.

Eighty percent of reservations for June and July will become available on Tuesday, June 9 at 7 am Pacific time.
And, YES you need a reservation even if you're on your way over Tioga Pass to the East Side to camp and backpack.
I am just driving through the park and not planning to recreate. Do I need a day-use reservation? How can you limit access to a state highway?

Yes, you still need a day-use reservation. Tioga Road, which connects with Highway 120 at the park boundaries near Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass, is not and has never been a state highway. Originally a private mining road, private citizens purchased the road and donated it to the National Park Service, which has improved and maintained the road ever since. The National Park Service is solely responsible for providing road maintenance, as well as law enforcement and emergency services, along all roads within Yosemite National Park.
We'll see if the internet crashes at 7:01 tomorrow with all of us trying to get day passes just to go over Tioga Pass to the other side.

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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by bobby49 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:32 pm

"How can you limit access to a state highway?"

Watch them!

I think that I will use the alternative route over Sonora Pass. Also, there is always the southern route through Bakersfield.

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Re: Yosemite reopens.

Post by salvilla » Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:20 pm

I spoke with a Ranger earlier today. Tioga Road opens 6/15.

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