Yosemite National Park is reopening to the public on Thursday after being closed for nearly three months during the coronavirus pandemic, but visitors should expect limited access.
The Northern California park known for its sky-scraping waterfalls, deep canyons and towering rock formations has been closed since March 20 and is one of the last of the country’s 419 national parks to reopen to visitors.
“There is no place like Yosemite, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back,” the park’s acting superintendent Cicely Muldoon said in a statement. “It’s going to be a different kind of summer, and we will continue to work hand in hand with our gateway communities to protect community health and restore access to Yosemite National Park.”
Yosemite, one of the busiest national parks, will allow just 1,700 vehicles to enter the park each day. That’s about half the typical number that enter in June, park officials say, and everyone entering will need to have made a reservation.
Several facilities, including some trails, viewpoints and shuttles, will remain closed.
Yosemite’s wildlife has thrived during its closure, park rangers have said over the last few months. With visitors away, the visible bear population has quadrupled, while coyotes, deer, bobcats and other creatures are freely roaming areas typically packed with throngs of tourists.
While Yosemite has a plan in place, the Department of the Interior has come under fire in recent weeks for being too hands-off in helping parks open safely while COVID-19 remains a threat. It wasn’t until just days before the busy Memorial Day weekend, that managers at parks that had already opened received guidance from the Interior department on resuming operations, controlling crowds and encouraging social distancing, according to internal documents HuffPost obtained last month.
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