Yosemite Lifts Visitation Restrictions, Welcomes Public

national park will no longer require pre-purchased day passes to visit

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

Yosemite National Park will no longer require the use of day passes for visitors, NPR reported. The park closed in March and reopened to 50% capacity in June with a stipulation that visitors acquire day passes first, which often sold out in minutes. The park boasts a long, proud history of reverence.

Yosemite national park
As of November 2020, the public can once again explore Yosemite National Park without restriction. Photo By Pung / Shutterstock

According to NPR, the world-famous Yosemite National Park is dropping its reservation requirements. “As of November 1, Yosemite’s day use permit requirement came to an end, allowing visitors to come and go as they please,” the article said. “With day use restrictions lifted, once again, the mountains are calling.”

The article explained that the park had closed completely on March 20 in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and when it reopened on June 11, visitors had to obtain day passes in advance to be one of those allowed entry. Some days, the day passes sold out within minutes of going on sale.

The attraction to Yosemite is borne from big names. It has earned the nickname “Nature’s Cathedral,” and with good reason. Before his passing, Professor Ford Cochran, who was Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions, taught a course for The Great Courses on national parks. This article contains material from that series.

Finding Yosemite

Yosemite National Park came into existence during the Civil War, despite the unrest.

“In 1864, even as the Civil War raged back east, Congress passed, and Abraham Lincoln took time to sign a bill that set aside Yosemite Valley, which he would not live to visit, and the nearby Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias in perpetuity, under the state of California’s management,” Professor Cochran said. “And so, though Yellowstone would later become the world’s first place designated a national park, Yosemite was the first natural wonder in the US designated by the federal government for eternal protection.”

Before long, a businessman named John Muir found Yosemite and took a job running its first lumber mill. He fell in love with the area and became an advocate for it and other natural places.

Friends in High Places

According to Professor Cochran, Muir became an influential public figure in Yosemite’s cause.

“Muir cut his teeth hiking in and around Yosemite, sharing his rapturous insights, and mounting appreciation for the region’s wonders with visitors he led up into the hills,” he said. “Following a three-night camping trip with Muir at Yosemite in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt went on to sign a bill in 1906 that receded the grant to California, and combined the valley with surrounding lands, including the Mariposa Grove, into a single national park.”

By this time, Muir had made himself into something of a legend in the region. It was said that everyone who visited Yosemite Valley wanted to tour it with John Muir. Muir also founded the Sierra Club, launched the American Conservation Movement, and devoted his life to helping create national parks, much in the way that he had lent his visions to President Roosevelt.

The park continued to draw famous visitors, including one who brought the world of Yosemite to America’s doorstep.

“From the 1920s onward, Ansel Adams photographed Yosemite in every season, finding in its landscapes the very essence of the Sierra Nevada Range—America’s tallest and longest outside of Alaska,” Professor Cochran said.

With high-profile advoctates like Teddy Roosevelt and Ansel Adams, it’s easy to see why Yosemite has endured for the last 150 years.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily

Mr. Cochran is Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions

Material from a course that Professor Ford Cochran (1962–2019) taught for The Great Courses is included in this article. Professor Cochran was Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions. He selected and managed the expert scholars, writers, photographers, explorers, and staff sent by the National Geographic Society on expeditions for travelers to destinations around the world. Mr. Cochran studied English literature as an undergraduate at William & Mary, where he edited the century-old student newspaper, The Flat Hat, for two years. He did field research on Hawaii’s volcanoes and Mount Saint Helens, with a focus on biogeochemistry and climate change, as a graduate student at Harvard and Yale Universities.