National parks begin to re-open

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

National  parks begin  to re-openLike any other year, the onset of warm weather and the closure of schools has residents eyeing destinations for possible summer getaway. But in light of lingering restrictions for many state and national parks, officials are warning that admission may be greatly scaled back this year — if it is allowed at all.

The federal shelter-at-home orders expired April 30. Earlier this month, some of the parks in Southern Utah (including Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion) began opening up. Arches and Canyonlands are expected to open this weekend.

The Grand Canyon opened up portions of the South Rim to limited traffic May 22-25.

However, in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that parks in the Golden state — including Death Valley, Yosemite and Joshua Tree — will not open up until Stage 3.

At press time, guidelines for that stage were reported in the works.

However, Yosemite officials are warning visitors that travel will be much different this year. Reservations and traffic into the park will be tightly regulated to ensure that visitors remain below 50 percent capacity.

Visitors hoping to acquire a day-use permit can apply at recreation.gov. Even season pass-holders will be required to make reservations online.

Park officials projected that some 3,600 vehicles would be allowed into the park per day, with around 1,900 being granted permission to stay overnight.

Crowd-control initiatives will be enforced in popular destinations such as the Lower Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point and Tunnel view. Yosemite Valley shuttle bus services have been terminated, with no immediate plans to be continued.

Officials from the Kern River Ranger District said that access to Sequoia National Forest began increasing last weekend.

“We are working with our concessionaire, California Land Management, along with state and local partners to determine the best path forward to safely reopen closed sites,” said an official. “Protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority.”

During typical years, forest service crews spend several weeks preparing to open campgrounds removing hazards and bringing services back online for campgrounds and picnic areas.

Temporary orders have extended the closure of developed recreation sites, but trails, trailheads and general forest areas remain accessible.

Updates will be reported as they are made available to the public.

Pictured: Yosemite falls. — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-05-29