[Updated July 5, 2020]
Is it safe to travel to California right now?
California continues to inch toward opening up areas and services as testing improves and hospitals remain within their capacity. Many want to know if it is safe to travel to Yosemite now and if you can experience the park’s splendor safely.
In some parts of California, like Yosemite Mariposa County, a wealth of wide-open places and a relatively small rural population, along with expert guidance from county public health officials has helped keep the incidence of COVID-19 to a minimum. This area has some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state.
As it becomes clear that it is safe within California travel restrictions and recommendations to open more services and activities, Yosemite and the surrounding communities in Mariposa County are delighted to start welcoming people back to this spectacular and beloved region.
As a county, we are taking several precautions that go above and beyond California state guidelines to help make sure Yosemite Mariposa County remains a safe and healthy place to visit. You can help us mitigate health risks by continuing to social distance, wearing face coverings, and washing and sanitizing your hands regularly. Above all, if you are feeling even slightly ill, please stay home.
If you’ve visited before, you know the popular destinations within Yosemite National Park can become bustling hubs of people all angling for the best scenic vantage points. In order to reduce that point-congestion, the National Park Service has instituted a day-use reservation for private vehicles entering the park to make sure these areas aren’t overcrowded.
Before embarking on your trip to visit Yosemite, you can find out more about what to expect as Yosemite opens, including information on the day-use reservations and other ways to gain entry to the park.
In the areas just outside the park, these kinds of hot spots are much rarer, and you can expect to find plenty of room to spread out and breathe freely. To learn more about activities outside of Yosemite, see our list of 100 things to do in Mariposa County.
You may wonder if it’s safe to travel to California for an overnight stay or longer. Many lodging and other businesses are finding creative ways to reduce the spread of disease while continuing to provide the basic services you need. You’ve probably already become used to grocery store changes like limited numbers of people in a building at a time, plexiglass screens to protect employees, and regular employee screenings. You’ll find many of the same procedures in place here as well.
Inside the park, the Visitor Center stations have been moved out of the visitor center and into the open air. Transparent screens have been put in place and operations altered to minimize ways that a virus could be transmitted, in accordance with United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
County-wide requirements for lodging also go above and beyond state guidelines for safety – eliminating items that could harbor viruses, in-depth cleaning procedures, use of CDC-approved sanitizers, and leaving at least a 24-hour gap between overnight guests so that staff will have time to fulfill the deep-cleaning requirements needed.
Some of the new safety guidelines include washing all linens in each room, removing pamphlets and magazines from lobbies, and washing each and every dish in between guests in each hotel and cabin rental. We’re taking cleanliness seriously to keep you safe.
Businesses are required to have a health and safety plan. Feel free to contact businesses directly for more specifics.
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Inside Yosemite, NPS has taken precautions to help you maintain your distance from other people on the trail. For example, the Mist Trail from the John Muir Trail junction near the Vernal Fall footbridge up to Vernal Fall is open to uphill traffic only from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Plan to take the Clark Point cutoff trail and the John Muir Trail to descend during those hours.
On other trails and trailheads, please be respectful of the hikers around you to leave as much space between each other as possible. If staying 6 feet away isn’t possible, wear a cloth face covering.
Outside the park, the trails are typically so quiet there is less worry about contacting other groups of people. Although it is still important to be respectful, you’ll find plenty of space to stretch your legs without encountering many others. To find hiking outside of Yosemite, visit our hiking page and sort by region.
In order to keep the number of cases of COVID-19 under control and not overwhelm our rural health care system, we need your help. Take the rules on social distancing and wearing face coverings and handwashing seriously so that the park and the county can continue to open more services, reduce limitations on visitation, and keep coronavirus cases low. Other counties like Lassen have had to close again as COVID-19 cases spiked after restrictions were relaxed. We ask that you please be a responsible traveler for yourself as well as the general public. If you’re showing any symptoms, consider getting a COVID-19 test before visiting. Also, heed California travel restrictions that are in place in your respective area.
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