2016-06-16 / Front Page

President’s visit means various closures at Yosemite this weekend

President John F. Kennedy at Yosemite National Park in 1962.President John F. Kennedy at Yosemite National Park in 1962.Yosemite National Park officials anticipate an extremely busy weekend as record visitation continues and the park prepares for President Obama’s visit to Yosemite June 17-19. 

The White House announced last week the President and his family will celebrate Father’s Day weekend with a family trip to Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite National Parks.

“We are honored to host the President and First Family and we remain committed, as always, to serving every visitor to Yosemite,” said Don Neubacher, Park Superintendent. “We want to give all visitors advance notice that heavy traffic congestion, full parking lots and several short-term area closures are anticipated throughout the weekend, particularly in Yosemite Valley.”  

Yosemite staff  will be implementing mitigation measures to ensure that visitor impacts are minimized.  

President John F. Kennedy, with California Gov. Pat Brown, was the last sitting President to visit Yosemite National Park in 1962. Neubacher said he hopes visitors will appreciate the historic nature of this opportunity, that has not happened for over 50 years. 

“We encourage patience and understanding as the park staff manages any temporary visitor impacts.” 

So far this calendar year, visitation to the park has increased by over 20 percent from 2015’s record visitation. Both last year and so far this spring, the park has seen traffic congestion, delays of up to two hours and full parking lots on weekends and holidays.

To reduce travel frustration and optimize sightseeing and recreational opportunities, park officials will provide visitors with travel advisories before and during the President’s visit. Those advisories will be posted on the park’s website and shared through the park’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. The website is www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm.

 As is typical on June weekends, visitors should expect extensive traffic delays and several temporary short-term area closures. Detailed information about these closures is still being developed and will be released as soon as possible. The park and the White House are working actively to minimize closures in the park during the President’s visit, while ensuring the safety and security of the First Family.

Visitors are urged to enter the park before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid traffic congestion and difficulty finding parking. Entering between these times will add to congestion and will likely lead to traffic delays of two or more hours.

Visitors are urged to use Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) buses that serve the park from several gateway communities and help reduce travel delays and congestion.

Local and regional visitors may wish to reschedule their trip for another weekend or during the weekdays. Visitors are also urged to enjoy neighboring gateway communities and other Sierra public lands and sites this weekend. Nearby areas such as Groveland, Eastern Sierra/Mammoth (Mono County), Oakhurst, Mariposa and other public lands provide outstanding scenic and recreational opportunities and are likely to be less crowded this weekend.

All climbing routes from and including Church Bowl east to Washington Column (Washington Column itself remains open) will be closed from Thursday sunset through Sunday afternoon. This includes Bishops Terrace, Royal Arches, Serenity Crack and Son’s of Yesterday.

All campgrounds within Yosemite National Park on the reservation system are sold out through the weekend. There are a very limited number of first-come, first-served campsites within the park and those are expected to fill early.  For 24 hour road and weather information, call (209) 372-0200. 

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