Project overview: Analyze data gathered during park reservation pilots from 2020 through 2022 to better understand how the park can protect resources and improve visitor experience via less crowding, shorter wait times to enter, improved parking and traffic flow, and more.

How your support helps: Crowding and traffic congestion have long been a detriment to both the visitor experience and resource protection in Yosemite during high visitation periods which include the February Horsetail Fall “Firefall” event as well as the peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Because of the park’s proximity to major population centers, excellent weather conditions can result in a flurry of spur-of-the-moment visitation. However, many of those looking for a relaxing getaway from their daily commute have made the trip only to find themselves in frustrating gridlock conditions on Yosemite Valley roads. This vehicle traffic, and the crowding in high-traffic areas that usually accompanies it, leaves visitors unable to fully experience the beauty and serenity of the park.

Your support will help the park utilize data from park reservation systems between 2020, in response to COVID-19, and 2022, when the peak hours reservation system was piloted to maximize visitor access given major construction projects in the Valley.

This year: This project will support a staff position dedicated to data analysis and, should operations warrant it, additional monitoring in the park. Data collected between 2020 and 2022 will be analyzed to better understand how the park can protect resources and improve the visitor experience — with the goal to make recommendations for the future to ensure less crowding, reduced entry wait times, improved traffic flow and parking, and more preparation to enjoy and experience the park. With your support, the lessons learned will be further shared to other parks across the National Park Service. Together, this information will allow resource and fire managers to spatially link forest structure, fire behavior, diversity, and function — informing predictions of future management impacts and hazard analyses for valued resources. With your support, this monitoring strategy crosses numerous disciplines and will facilitate a bigger picture, multi-resource view of our shared goals and objectives.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park

Nicole Athearn

Chief of Resources Management and Science Division, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

“By continuing to make modifications, improve technology, and collect key data, we can return the park to a place where visitors can unwind, recharge, and create lifelong memories with friends and family.”