Yosemite online reservations on sale to enter California park

Yosemite National Park day-use entry passes are now on sale for arrivals between May 21 and June 30.

The popular park in California started selling the $2 reservations, needed in addition to normal park entrance fees, at 8 a.m. Wednesday via recreation.gov.

Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said late Wednesday morning that the park heard sales were going well, except for a few “timed out” issues due to high demand.

“However, overall, it is going well and many passes were sold,” Gediman said.

Some Yosemite enthusiasts reported frustrating online issues trying to get a pass, with numerous error messages. A number of others took to social media to rejoice in their success.

Yosemite visitors can still enter the park without a reservation. That changes May 21, when day-use entry passes – which can only be purchased online – will be needed for all visitors without overnight reservations in the park, a bus ticket in, or who just want to recreate in Hetch Hetchy or drive through Yosemite to a destination on the other side.

Yosemite hasn’t shared the number of day-use entry passes it plans to sell between May 21 and Sept. 23, or until local health conditions improve due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number sold Wednesday also wasn’t available.

Officials previously just said an additional 950 to 1,850 more day-use passes should be issued each week in 2021 than in 2020.

James Otterman, from Virginia, left, takes park information after checking in at the south entrance as Yosemite National Park re-opens after a historic closure Thursday, June 11, 2020. Otterman said he was on his way to see the couple’s daughter in Northern California and the timing was perfect for a visit to Yosemite. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA [email protected]

The ticketed entry system experienced some glitches last summer when it was first implemented.

Taylor Stanton was among those who had trouble getting a reservation last year. He faced the same issue Wednesday morning. He spent an hour trying to make a reservation, only to be met with messages about recreation.gov experiencing heavy traffic. Stanton tried again later in the day and managed to get a reservation late Wednesday afternoon.

Thinking reservation problems could surface again this year, he previously secured Eastern Sierra wilderness permits so he can hike into the park from the east.

Stanton also raised concerns about the fairness of the reservation system, saying it’s making Yosemite into a “playground for the white, affluent class” when park access is supposed to be a right for all Americans. He said online reservations put those with internet connectivity issues at a disadvantage, along with people who don’t have lots of time to try and get a reservation online, or who work in jobs where they can’t plan vacations weeks or months in advance.

Yosemite officials implemented the system to reduce the number of visitors due to the ongoing pandemic.

Each user on recreation.gov can make one reservation per arrival date, officials said. Day-use passes in 2021 grant three days of consecutive park entries (instead of the normal seven) from the start date of the reservation.

While visitors this year don’t have to arrive on the first day of their reservation, if they get to the park on day three, they’d only have access to the park on that day, for example.

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