More people are traveling this year for the Fourth of July holiday, and in Central California, Yosemite and other national parks are already filled up, officials say.
“Economic growth, increased disposable income and lower gas prices have spurred many Californians to celebrate our Independence Day weekend by traveling,” said Cynthia Harris, an AAA Northern California spokeswoman.
Close to 5 million Californians are expected to travel for the holiday weekend, the highest since 2002, the Auto Club says. Nearly 4 million of those travelers will drive, making for busy highways.
A gallon of unleaded regular cost $2.83 in Fresno on Thursday, well under the price of $3.38 a year ago, the AAA Fuel Tracker report showed.
Never miss a local story.
Five million Californians are expected to travel for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
In an effort to keep drivers in Fresno safe during the holiday weekend, the California Highway Patrol will be conducting a DUI checkpoint on Saturday. The CHP purposely does not disclose the location. Checkpoints have proven effective at reducing crashes involving impaired drivers, the CHP says. Drunken driving caused 802 deaths in California in 2012.
Park officials say reserved campsites at Yosemite are all taken. There are limited first-come, first-served campsites available at Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
Park Service officials are encouraging visitors to come as early as 9 a.m. to find parking. In past years, visitors have been delayed two hours while trying to get into Yosemite. There is new parking available in the valley west of Yosemite Lodge, but it fills up quickly, park officials say.
Sequoia visitors should consider parking at Wuksachi Lodge, Lodgepole Campground, Dorst Creek or the Wolverton picnic area and take shuttles into the park.
Parking at Kings Canyon is limited, but some could be available at the Big Stump picnic area. If staying at a hotel or campsite, consider taking the shuttle.
Fireworks are restricted in all three parks.
Elsewhere, where will the nation’s worst congestion be on Friday? According to a traffic forecasting firm, it will be in San Francisco.
Traffic data provider INRIX predicts San Francisco will have the largest percentage increase in travel time, beating out major cities like New York and Chicago. After 3 p.m. on Friday, it could take 30 minutes to drive just 4 miles.
San Diego is the top destination for the Fourth of July in Southern California, according to the Automobile Club.
“Summer is always popular, but we expect even more people this year,” San Diego Tourism Authority spokesman Robert Arends says. Arends says people come to “get away from the hustle and bustle” of cities like Los Angeles.