What you need to know before you visit Yosemite National Park this summer

FRESNO, Calif. -- Summer of 2021 will look a bit different compared to years past at Yosemite National Park.

After a temporary shutdown during the pandemic and a dramatic drop in visitors in 2020, park officials are bracing for a rush of hikers and sightseers.

"This year, we see it going up already as we're going into the summer season and people are really anxious to get out and about," said Park Ranger Scott Gediman.

Hiking trails and popular attractions like Half Dome and Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls will be open, but in order to see them, you have to plan ahead.

This year, the park is bringing back day-use reservations between May and September to limit the amount of visitors per day.

That's not the only change park goers will see.

"It's as beautiful as ever, of course, but we're not going to be running the shuttle buses this year, so people should be aware of that," said Gediman.

Without shuttle buses, officials said you should wear a comfortable pair of shoes and expect to walk more or bring a bike.

"Here in Yosemite Valley, it's just going to take a little more time to get around," Gediman said.

Officials said visitors will need to social distance or wear a mask when groups of people are around.

Some visitors, like Timothy Cerimele from Oakland, used the reservation system last year are embracing the change.

"No buses was phenomenal, no traffic on the loop here is reasonable -- safe for the people safe for the drivers -- and generally people seem excited to be here when it's not so packed," said Timothy Cerimele, who was visiting from Oakland.

Others said it stops people from being able to make a last minute trip.

"It's our national park, we need to be able to come and go," said Terry Alexander from Riverside, CA. He said he visits at least three times a year.

Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov and are $2 each plus the vehicle entry fee of $33.

If you have a camping reservation or a lodging reservation inside the park, you don't need the day-use reservation.

"I think the reservation system is a good idea just because we don't want to crowd a bunch of people out here, the only thing is it's impossible to get a reservation," said Jessica Mendez from Danville, CA.

Reservations have already opened up for all of the summer months. If the date you want to visit is booked, check back seven days ahead of your visit because more reservations will be released.

"Be familiar with the system, look at the dates -- look at when you want to come up, but flexibility is another key." Gediman said.

Officials said whoever's name is on the reservation must have a photo ID and physically be there in order to get in, otherwise you'll be turned away at the gate.
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