Yosemite during the pandemic

Has anyone been to Yosemite since it reopened?  We have reservations for late July at Yosemite Valley Lodge and are trying to decide whether to go or cancel.  We have never been to Yosemite so this would be our first time to experience Yosemite Valley.  We have two kids aged 4 and 9.  We are also about to move out of state so this may be our last chance to go when the trip is fairly easy logistics-wise.  However, we're wondering if it's worth it to go now with all of the restrictions in place.  The shuttle around the Valley is closed, it seems that the ranger program and most museum/educational buildings are closed, we would have to wear masks everywhere, etc.  We want to rent bikes, but I'm worried about them being disinfected.  Same with common areas in the hotel and using public restrooms around the park.  Any thoughts/opinions?  For those who have been there, how restrictive and/or safe does everything feel?  Thank you!

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RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

Oh, definitely cancel, and then transfer your reservations to me!

In all seriousness, I don't think you'll ever have a better opportunity in Yosemite. With the restrictions on travel to the Park it's going to be amazing compared to the usual summer crowds. Disinfecting bikes? What on earth do you intend to do with them? Just keep your 4-yo from licking them too much :) !! It's too bad about the museums and visitor centers but there is still a lot to see just outdoors.

We just got back from Lassen and it was fabulous - camping and hiking and swimming. We found that people (park staff, fellow campers, folks in the surrounding communities) were kind, open, generous, and friendly, and we all found ways to maintain appropriate distances. When you see someone approaching on the trail, your group or the other one pulls off at the nearest wide spot on the trail (some people pull up their mask - whatever you're comfortable with), and you pass each other - it's just like driving up one of the narrow roads int eh Berkeley Hills. You will be in a place of wonder and beauty and you will be sharing it with other people who are appreciating one of the most spectacular treasures of nature in the US. I envy you guys - definitely do not give up on Yosemite!

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

I haven't been there since the pandemic began, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I want to say that the opportunity to be in Yosemite Valley when it is operating with limits on its normal number of visitors seems like such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime chance that you would be crazy to pass it up. Bring your own sanitizing wipes or bleach solution and a rag, and disinfect the rented bikes yourself. Wipe down anything you're worried about. Wear a mask and hold your breath while you go pee in a shared restroom. I think you can find ways to manage the risks when you are in an environment that mostly allows you to be outdoors. The ranger programs are nice, but they aren't really why you go to Yosemite. You're there to just take in the beauty of nature, and you can do that without a museum or ranger-guided activities. If you guys are able to ride bikes, you don't need the shuttle. Ride around, take in the gorgeous views of this very, very special place, and glory in all of it. Do I need to send you some photos of how crowded Yosemite Valley typically is in July?? :) You should go!

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

We went to Yosemite three days after it opened. I think it’s an amazing time to go to Yosemite because they’re limiting the amount of cars coming into the park to 1000 cars, where in a typical summer day there was a 6000 car limitation. We stayed in cabins at Evergreen Lodge.   The cabin aspect was nice because you weren’t really indoors with other people and you could order your breakfast or dinner to go and eat outdoors at their picnic tables.  We brought a lot of snacks with us so we wouldn’t be reliant upon food at the park. The market was open but I’m not sure what else will be.  

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

Hi I just posted but I want to add a little more now that I read your question all the way through.... Bathrooms were open. Parking at the various locations was easy enough so the shuttle not operating was not a problem.  We did not look into bike rentals but I would think it would be easy enough to disinfect bikes if you are worried about the level of prior disinfectant.  You may want to bring your own bike helmets. 

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

Hello! We were just in Yosemite, staying at the Yosemite Valley Lodge for one night, last week. Here's some thoughts in case helpful: 

1) The Lodge felt very safe, everyone took distancing seriously. For example, at check-in, they even asked if my husband and I share a last name (we don't), and took down both of our information because they are conducting contact tracing if anything happens. They have at least a 30 hour window in each room between stays.

2) The rooms do not have AC, but very strong fans (helpful, as it was HOT!). Not having AC was actually a relief, as I didn't worry about air circulating from room to room.

3) The whole Valley was really quiet--SUCH a treat for the summer. We rented bikes, all disinfected, and easily biked through the whole valley without having to worry about crowds.

4) We only did the Valley and Tenaya Lake. The only time I felt a little worried about crowds was at Lower Yosemite Falls. Almost everyone had masks on. Other than that, we were pretty much on our own, which was incredibly refreshing after 3+ months stuck at home!

5) All that said, I was still pretty anxious. Likely because it was our first time really out and about, and not because of anything with the park. The public restrooms were the most nerve wracking-not exactly a pleasant experience in normal times, but felt stressful in COVID-I also have a younger child (3), so that was part of the restroom nerves. We brought our own food, which worked our really well, but was of course, something else to plan for. All the restaurants are open, but we didn't go.

If you can go and take some time when you get back before seeing other people, I think it is totally worth it. It was quiet, beautiful, and seeing the incredible views was what our family needed after this tough spring. I felt safe and our family was fine, my main concern is always inadvertently exposing others. So, if you can shelter at home after, I would say, go. Hope that helps :)

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

This is a tricky one.  From what we know the virus has a hard time spreading when you are outside.  I would not be concerned when you are outside. It's when you are inside eating and sleeping that would prevent me from going.  I would make it a day trip.  Or go camping with your own tent and camping equipment.

With the virus spreading like it has been the past couple of weeks more people have it and is spreading faster that it has been in the past.

RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

My husband and I just went to Yosemite last weekend. It seemed crowded to me, but everyone said it was not compared to pre-covid summers. We usually go in the winter. Not having the shuttle was a bummer, but renting bikes seems like a great plan. The hike to Yosemite falls is very close to the lodge and a must. We hiked the Mist Trail, which was lovely. It was one-way from 9-4 and a really big hike, so would probably be better to do it later so you can turn around at 4:00. We felt ok using the bathroom, but always had a mask on, washed hands well and used hand sanitizer after. Almost everyone wear a mask when close to others. Food is mainly available at the base camp eatery which is close to the Lodge, we only ate outside. You could also bring the food to the table in your room. We found most of the other grills weren’t open or closed early at 5:00. It was hot, swimming in the river is a great option. We love Yosemite and go often. It is different with covid. It’s a bummer to not go in the visitor center and things like that, but the appeal is the outdoors, and that’s the same.