Reservations are No Longer Required for Yosemite National Park
The National Park Service Announced That it is Doing Away with its Timed Entry System
The National Park Service has good news for anyone planning to visit Yosemite National Park next year. Last week, the NPS announced that it is doing away with its timed entry system, which required travelers to obtain a reservation just to pass through the gates. But while that may make spontaneous visits much easier, not everyone is happy with the change in policy.
The timed entry program was implemented in 2020 at the height of the COVID pandemic. At the time, Yosemite saw an unprecedented spike in visitors as more and more people took to the outdoors. This led to busy roads, trails, and campsites when concerns over the virus were at an all-time high. Now, the number of visitors has trickled back to more manageable numbers, although it remains one of the more popular outdoor destinations in the country.
Reservations will not be required to visit Yosemite National Park during summer of 2023. Reservations were required in the summers of 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and in summer 2022 when numerous key visitor attractions were closed for critical infrastructure repairs. 1/3
— Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) November 15, 2022
The announcement of the discontinuation of the timed entry system came via the official Yosemite Twitter account. In a three-part tweet, park officials indicated that reservations would no longer be required, but they were exploring alternative ways of managing traffic in and out of the area. The NPS promises an announcement is coming next month with further details on plans to facilitate visitation while continuing to protect the natural environment.
“Yosemite has been grappling with congestion—even gridlock—for decades,” park officials shared on Twitter. “We want to build from the lessons learned from the last three summers of managed access.”
While the policy change will make it easier to visit the park, some are critical of the plan to return to open access. Mark Rose—the Sierra Nevada Program Manager for the National Parks Conversation Association—told the LA Times, “We don’t want to see a return to the days of visitors being stuck in hours-long traffic lines before hiking overcrowded trails.”
Rose also said, “We’re glad the park has committed to finding a long-term solution to the overcrowding problems that have long been endemic at Yosemite. However, it’s disappointing that park managers have chosen to hit pause on a highly successful reservation system in the meantime.”
Yosemite wasn’t the only national park to implement an advanced reservation program for entry in 2020. Acadia, Arches, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, and Zion all used a similar approach to help control traffic and crowds. Whether or not those locations will continue to use that system remains to be seen.
If your travel plans for 2023 include visiting a national park and potentially camping there, getting your passes, permits, and reservations early is a good idea. Visit the National Park Service website and recreation.gov for more information.