Yosemite National Park expects busy 4th of July weekend

Yosemite National Park expects high visitation over the July 4th holiday weekend, creating traffic congestion and delays. Using alternate transportation, like YARTS, is encouraged.
Yosemite National Park expects high visitation over the July 4th holiday weekend, creating traffic congestion and delays. Using alternate transportation, like YARTS, is encouraged. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Yosemite National Park anticipates a very busy Fourth of July weekend. The park expects high visitation, especially from Thursday, June 29 until Wednesday, July 5. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at Yosemite before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

And remember, fireworks are strictly prohibited in the park.

Once in the park, visitors are urged to park their vehicles at the Yosemite Village, Yosemite Falls, or Half Dome Village parking areas and leave them parked. Visitors are then encouraged to use the free shuttle bus service, bike paths, and hiking trails to navigate Yosemite Valley. One of the best ways to travel around Yosemite Valley is by bicycle.

Parking in Yosemite Valley is very limited and is expected to fill early. Visitors coming to Yosemite should expect up to a 3-hour wait to enter and park their vehicles. There will be traffic congestion throughout the park, including in Yosemite Valley, along Glacier Point Road, and in Tuolumne Meadows.

Parking is only allowed in designated parking areas. Vehicles parked off road or blocking the flow of traffic may be towed or receive a citation for up to $780.

A great way to avoid parking challenges in Yosemite Valley is to park your vehicle outside and ride the Yosemite Area Regional Transit (YARTS) buses into Yosemite Valley. YARTS picks up passengers at multiple locations, including along Highway 140 (from Merced), along Highway 120 (from Sonora and Mammoth Lakes), and along Highway 41 (beginning in Fresno).

YARTS buses provide multiple drop-off locations throughout the park and in Yosemite Valley. Once visitors are in Yosemite Valley, they can enjoy the free shuttle throughout the valley or simply walk, to enjoy many of park’s most famous sites and destinations.

Visit www.yarts.com for more information.

All campgrounds on the reservation system are completely sold out for the weekend. The park’s first-come, first-served campgrounds will fill early. There are many camping and lodging options in the gateway communities surrounding the park.

Visitors should also be mindful of the expected warm temperatures this weekend. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, and be careful of overexertion. Watch for signs of heat stress and do not leave pets or children unattended in vehicles.

Waterways inside Yosemite National Park, including the Merced and the Tuolumne Rivers, continue to flow very fast and very cold. Visitors are encouraged to avoid fast-moving stream crossings and to stay at least one body length away from any moving water.

Here are a few tips to enjoy the park during this busy summer season.

Stop at a visitor center in town on your way to the park - Stop at one of the visitor centers in the communities of Mariposa, Oakhurst, Groveland, or Lee Vining for information on Yosemite National Park and to purchase your park pass. Buying an entrance pass at a gateway visitor center can help reduce your wait time at the park’s entrance.

Plan trips during mid-week - Yosemite is most popular on weekends and holidays, which can mean traffic congestion. Fewer visitors arrive Monday through Friday.

Explore lesser known areas of Yosemite and the surrounding areas - Yosemite National Park is a big park with a lot to offer. Consider visiting other areas outside of Yosemite Valley that are just as beautiful. Visitors can explore areas such as Hetch Hetchy, Tioga Road, and Wawona. Visitors are also urged to explore other areas within the Yosemite region. There are many areas of natural beauty and cultural significance surrounding the park. A variety of attractions in and around gateway communities such as Mariposa, Oakhurst, Sonora, Lee Vining, and Mammoth Lakes offer great recreational and sightseeing opportunities.

Hiking is a great way to explore the park’s wonders. Day hikers and backpackers should be aware that weather can be unpredictable and change without warming. Visitors are encouraged to plan and bring the necessary gear to have a safe and enjoyable trip. To help plan your visit, check out the current edition of the Yosemite Guide (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/yg17-5.pdf).

Speeding kills bears - When driving in the park, motorists are urged to drive slowly as bears and other animals are active and may be present on the roadway.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, (209) 372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again.