TRAVEL-UST-YOSEMITE-FIREFALL-DMT

If the conditions are just right, Horsetail waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park lights up from the setting sun, making it appear as though it's on fire. (David Pruter/Dreamstime/TNS)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Yosemite National Park will not require day-use reservations to enter the popular park in March.

“Starting March 1, reservations will not be required to enter Yosemite,” park officials recently announced.

Day-use reservations – $2 via recreation.gov, in addition to normal park entrance fees – were again required in February, in part to manage and reduce crowds that come to the see the park’s “firefall” phenomenon in February.

Yosemite first implemented a day-use reservation system last summer to reduce visitation and help stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s not yet known whether the park will implement that system again in the summer of 2021. Public health conditions have informed past decisions.

An online ticketed entry was not needed for those with overnight lodging or camping reservations in Yosemite (including private communities only accessible by driving into the park, like Yosemite West). Those with a commercial-use authorization, like tour operators, also didn’t need a separate day-use reservation to get in. The same applied to those entering the park on a Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) bus, or on foot, bicycle or horseback.

Yosemite officials haven’t shared the number of coronavirus cases in the park, but COVID-19 has been reported in Yosemite, like most places in California and the U.S. Much of Yosemite sits in rural Mariposa County, which has reported some of the fewest coronavirus cases in the state. But counties around Yosemite in the central San Joaquin Valley have been some of the hardest hit by the virus.

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