Yosemite National Park to suspend summer reservation system
The National Park Service (NPS) has announced that it would not require a Temporary Peak Hours vehicle reservation to enter Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2023. The decision follows three years of a reservation system that originally was implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and later assist with significant construction projects in the park. The decision will make it easier for travelers to plan their visit to Yosemite Mariposa County.
“This decision will help our visitors, especially those from other states & countries who tend to plan their once-in-a-lifetime vacations to Yosemite about a year in advance,” said Jonathan Farrington, CEO and Executive Director of the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau (YMTCB). “For our friends who live closer to the region, this allows them to be more spontaneous with their plans to visit.”
The suspension of the reservation system in 2023 will allow NPS to conduct a full environmental assessment in the coming year which will include public input. YMCTB and the Mariposa County Lodging Association members look forward to participating and engaging with the National Park Service and providing business-based data and experience in those conversations.
California’s tourism industry has been improving since the pandemic and with nearly 50 percent of all employment in Mariposa County dependent on tourism, it is crucial that visitation has the opportunity return to pre-pandemic levels. According to Visit California, in 2019, visitors spent $476.1M in the county, which dropped to $255.3M during 2020 and rose to $361.6M in 2021. The suspension of the reservation system is expected to help the recovery of Mariposa County’s lodging businesses, which have struggled with occupancy during peak season over the past three years. Local economic growth has been slowed by sluggish worldwide economies, with poor international exchange rates for the Euro and Pound vs. the strong U.S. Dollar, inflation and rising travel costs. Mariposa County relies on strong domestic and international visitation during the peak summer months to support its businesses and workforce.
YMCTB does recommend that visitors make a detailed travel plan for visiting, no matter how long or short their vacation will be. The organization offers some helpful tips for visitation:
- Arrive early to avoid queues at Yosemite’s entrance gates.
- Use public transportation or commercial tours, such as YARTS and the Yosemite Valley Shuttle System or several of the regions tour companies.
- Consider spending full days exploring regions in and out of the park instead of trying to see the nearly 1,200 square mile park in a single day.
- Avoid peak traffic times between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at park gates on holiday weekends.
- Visit during fall, winter and spring for a more serene experience in Yosemite.
“Yosemite Mariposa County is a four-season destination, and each season is spectacular and worth experiencing,” Farrington said. “If you’ve visited in summer, you’ll love the beauty and cooler temperatures of fall, tranquility of winter and the waterfalls and wildflowers of spring.”