Yosemite National Park Is Bringing Back Reservation System to Limit Crowds

Park goers will need to make day-use reservations to enter the park starting May 21.

Yosemite National Park will implement a reservation system to limit capacity this summer, reverting to a protocol the park used to manage crowds throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park goers will need to make day-use reservations to enter the park starting May 21, the National Parks Service said on Thursday, including annual and lifetime pass holders. Each reservation will be valid for one vehicle for three days.

"The temporary day-use reservation system will allow the park to manage visitation levels to reduce risks associated with exposure to COVID-19," the NPS wrote in a statement.

Visitor levels will range from 50% to 90% of the park's usual visitation numbers, depending on the COVID-19 situation in Mariposa County, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"The basic plan is to protect human health and safety and provide as much access as we can," Cicely Muldoon, the park's superintendent, said at a meeting of local government and community leaders, according to the paper. The park has already started to see an influx of large crowds in recent weeks, he said.

"We think these numbers will allow people to enjoy the park safely," Muldoon added.

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Reservations for Yosemite will be available on recreation.gov starting at 8 a.m. on April 21, and will be required through Sept. 30.

Those who plan to stay overnight — in a hotel or NPS-managed campground — will not need to make a separate day-use reservation. Just over 580 campground sites will be open this summer, compared to only 247 last year, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

A similar system had been put in place from June 2020 through October 2020, and again from Feb. 8 through Feb. 28 of this year.

While crowds typically swell in the summer (about 75% of all visitors to Yosemite usually come from May to October), it's also one of the best times to see beautiful wildflowers.

National parks throughout the country have been seeing more and more crowds in recent months, making it the perfect time to start thinking about summer getaways with plenty of time to plan.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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