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How To Get In and Experience The Park This Summer
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Blog How To Get In & Experience Yosemite This Summer
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Alex Silgalis | 06/15/2020 | Horseback Riding, Tours, Tours, Transportation |   

If you haven’t heard the great news, Yosemite National Park re-opened on June 11th. Just like all other businesses and landmarks across California, they’ve taken special steps this year to ensure that both you and employees stay safe while giving you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite.

What’s Open?

For those that enter, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Yosemite is largely open including its over 800 miles (yes, 800) of trails. This will include popular destinations like Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley. Be that as it may, there are areas that will be closed such as the Lower Yosemite Falls boulders, Bridalveil Fall trail and viewing area (closed for the Bridalveil Fall Rehabilitation Project, and the Wawona Hotel (closed through 2020 for renovations). In addition, the Mist trail from the top of Vernal Fall to John Muir trail junction is closed for downhill hiking from 9 am to 4 pm.

Reservations The New Normal

To increase park access but at the same time comply with local, state, and federal healthy guidelines, the National Park Service is implementing a temporary day-use reservation system. The initial phase will allow 1,700 vehicles entry per day which is approximately half the volume of an average day during this time of year. The majority of the reservations (currently ~80%) are released monthly (e.g. July 1st release for the month of August) with a small percentage (~20%) released daily 48 hours before each day.  Reservation can only be obtained on-line via the Recreation.gov website. The go live at 7am each day and go very, very quickly.


What If You Can’t Get A Reservation?

Fortunately, if despite your best efforts you couldn’t get a reservation spot, you can gain access by reaching out to one of the following approved public, private, and specialty tours.

Discovery Yosemite ToursCrossroads Tours at Yosemites Tunnel ViewCrossroads Tours

For those wanting to see this national treasure from a local’s perspective to get the prefect “shot” (Pat Althizer of Photo Safari Yosemite is THE local Yosemite Photoguide!) these daily guided tours are worth it. Yosemite and the surrounding region are packed with an abundance of riches, from their many sights and interesting history much of which you may miss especially on a first visit. It's pretty safe to say that you will experience Yosemite in no better way than with any of these tours!

Crossroads Tours

Discover Yosemite Tours

Lasting Adventures

Photo Safari Yosemite

Yosemite Family Adventures

AirBORRN Aviation/Yosemite Airways Scenic ToursAnother great option is to combine a bucket list item alongside seeing the grandeur of John Muir’s public lands. See the iconic granite walls of Yosemite Valley via an airplane tour. Get up close and personal with these mighty cliffs by going rock-climbing. Grab a paddle and test your mettle on the mighty Merced River via whitewater rafting. Explore trails Yosemite's Mariposa Grove by The options for adventures are endless.

AirBORRN Aviation (Yosemite Airways Scenic Tours)

O.A.R.S. (Whitewater rafting)

Sierra Nevada Motorsports (4x4 Tours & Rentals)

Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (Outdoor Adventures)

YExplore Yosemite Adventures (Outdoor Adventures)

Yosemite Fly Fishing Guide

Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures (Horseback tours)

Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions (Whitewater Rafting)


Last but not the least, you can gain access by taking public transit. Yosemite Area Rapid Transit System (YARTS) provides hassle-free service to all four of Yosemite's gateways. Schedules and routes for each vary.  Currently three buses provide daily service through the Southern Gateway with the Fresno Airport and the Yosemite Valley Visitor's Center as end points. Route information can be found here. Riding the bus is a three-fold win; no Day-use pass/reservation is required, your entry fee is included in the fair, and you can sit back and just enjoy the ride!


If your origin point is further away, hopping on a train might just be the ticket. The Amtrak San Joaquins train provides service to Yosemite via partner connections with YARTS. There are two connection points, Merced to the West of the park and Fresno to the South. Head to the Amtrak San Joaquins website for more information or give them a call at (800) 872-7245. 

As Yosemite National Park re-opens, we hope this guide provides you a bit of guidance on how you can enjoy it with or without reservations.

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Like what you see? Save any (or all) of these pins to your travel planning board(s) to give you any easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other itineraries as well as blog posts for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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