Unusually high building initiatives will impose new booking requirements for summer 2022, Yosemite officials say.
Due to increasing traffic issues in Yosemite Valley With mountains and construction projects piling up, park officials have responded with a new permit system.
From May 20 to September 30, 2022, anyone visiting Yosemite from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. will need to make a reservation online. There are a few notable exceptions to the new system (more on that later).
Officials hope the plan will ease traffic flow in the park, improving the visitor experience. The National Park Service (NPS) does not specify how many permits will be available each day.
Get ready – the first round of bookings goes live this Wednesday March 23.
Why: Deferred maintenance needs
“Everyone deserves a great park experience,” Yosemite Superintendent Cicely Muldoon told the East Bay Time. “If we did nothing, there would be traffic jams all summer, every day.”
Muldoon is probably right about the traffic jam. Now, traffic on historic Loop Road is as familiar as the Half Dome skyline. The Yosemite tour shows no signs of slowing down, and anyone familiar with the route knows that the one-way loop naturally creates bottlenecks at various points. The congestion is only getting worse.
This year, the substantial NPS maintenance plan could amplify the effect. The agency plans to close many critical areas along the way for long overdue infrastructure repairs.
In 2020, the Yosemite Conservancy reported that the park had a larger backlog of “deferred maintenance” than any other national park.
In a statementhe said Yosemite needed $680 million in “necessary repairs or maintenance to infrastructure and systems that have been deferred for at least a year due to budget constraints.”
This year’s projects amount to $100 million in total repairs. Glacier Point Trailwhich comes from outside the park and leads to the Overlook, will be closed all year round as part of these works.
The road provides easy access to several parking areas and popular trailheads. But 10 miles of pavement repairs scheduled for 2022 will likely lead to increased traffic on the main loop.
Other maintenance work includes trail and facility work at Bridalveil Falls and several campground closures. The park will close Tuolumne Meadows, Crane Flat and Bridalveil Creek for repairs to aging water systems, restrooms and other facilities.
The East Bay Times reported that about 800 of 1,860 parking spaces in Yosemite Valley and the Glacier Point area will be closed this summer.
How to Make Reservations for 2022 in Yosemite
If you know your Yosemite dates now, prepare to be on the list. The NPS will make 70% of reservations for all dates (May 20 to September 30, 2022) available on Recreation.gov March 23. Each reservation allows the visitor to enter for 3 consecutive days.
For shorter term planning, the NPS will set aside 30% of all reservations up to 7 days prior to visitors’ scheduled arrival dates. Translation: if you miss the initial 70%, check the website the week before you plan to come. In this case, you will not be able to make a reservation more than 7 days before your trip.
Reservations become available at 8:00 a.m. PT daily. The NPS indicates that they are slipped “almost immediately”. To stay on the ball, make sure you’re logged into your Recreation.gov account and ready to hit the “go” button quickly in the morning.
Each reservation costs a $2 non-refundable fee (in addition to the park entrance fee of $35 per car).
Several other permits exempt Yosemite visitors from the new system. If you already have a reservation for any of the following, you do not need an additional reservation.
- Yosemite National Park campgrounds including Curry Village, Housekeeping Camp, Yosemite Valley Lodge, The Ahwahnee, White Wolf Lodge, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, and the Wawona Hotel
- Private accommodation or vacation rental in Wawona, Yosemite West or Foresta
- Yosemite Wilderness Permit (including Wilderness Climbing Permit)
Yosemite also does not require a reservation if you are arriving on a regional transit system in the Yosemite area (YARTS) bus or with an authorized tour group.
All in all, this summer promises to be complicated in Yosemite. But according to Superintendent Muldoon, the overdue maintenance work should ensure lasting stability of the infrastructure.
“It’s going to be messy this summer, but it will set the park up for decades,” she said, referring to the construction. “We’re replacing things that are 50, 60, 70 years old…Visitors don’t see the duct tape and baling wire that holds this place together.”
For more, check out Yosemite Plan your visit page.