Yosemite National Park is ending controversial reservation system

Yosemite National Park is ending controversial reservation system

Park officials announced on Tuesday that the controversial crowd control policy, which was enacted during the first two years of the pandemic and continued for a third year due to construction work, will not be in effect next year. The reservation requirement covered the park’s peak summer season, during which Yosemite was historically one of the National Park Service’s most-visited sites.

While the reservation system limited numbers during years when the park’s staff and services were down due to the coronavirus, it became a sore point for last-minute travelers who couldn’t win entry and gateway communities struggling from the dependent on tourist traffic. Others liked the program because it cleared much of Yosemite’s infamous traffic jams.

However, the lifting of the policy doesn’t necessarily mean that reservations are gone forever.

Park officials say the suspension of the program provides an opportunity to see what visitor numbers are like in the post-Covid world, take stock of the defunct reservation system, poll the public and decide how to manage crowds going forward. Reservations were discussed long before the coronavirus as a long-term means of addressing entry station queues, crowded parking lots and blocked roads, particularly in Yosemite Valley.

“We want to build on what we’ve learned about managed access over the past three summers,” said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman. “Our ultimate goal is to develop a plan that maintains a superior visitor experience and protects the park’s resources.”

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