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Visiting Yosemite During the COVID Pandemic

Visiting Yosemite during the COVID pandemic is entirely possible for those in good health. If you feel sick or have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, you should obviously stay home. Park modifications and restrictions are in place to ensure visitor safety, and a trip to this stunning national park, even during a pandemic, will still be a beautiful trip to remember. All the mask-wearing, temperature checks, and hand-sanitizing becomes worth it once you get into the valley, breathe that fresh air, and find yourself surrounded by the iconic mountain giants of Yosemite National Park.

Reservations

The park is currently open for visitors without reservations, but, as rules and regulations constantly change due to the pandemic, be sure to double check hours and any rules for visitation ahead of time. During certain months of 2020, visiting Yosemite during the COVID pandemic required a reservation at one of the park’s accommodations. To reserve your stay in the park, be sure to visit Travel Yosemite.

Tunnel View of Yosemite Valley
Tunnel View of Yosemite Valley

Activities

While visiting Yosemite during the COVID pandemic, most of your activities will have to be done on your own. The good news is that Yosemite Valley is full of hikes, nature trails, and picturesque spots for photos and picnicking. For a list of general Yosemite actives, check out my post 10 Things to Do in Yosemite Valley.

All organized group activities are currently closed. This includes guided walks and bus tours, ranger talks, and evening programs. The visitor centers have moved their operations outside and have installed plastic screens to still be able to provide guest assistance while ensuring safety. If you’re looking for some quick weekend Yosemite tips, be sure to check out my 2 Day and 4 Day Yosemite Valley Itineraries.

Glacier Point Half Dome View and Four Mile Trail Hike Trailhead in Yosemite Valley
Glacier Point View and Trailhead for Four Mile Trail

Dining

There are limited dining options open, but the ones that are open are doing a wonderful job to ensure everyone is practicing safe distancing and good hygiene. For a full list of what is open, including hours of operation, check out Yosemite’s Dining Page. Depending on the level of COVID infection in the Mariposa region at the current moment, restaurants may have reduced capacity available, or may be take-out only.

Base Camp Eatery at Yosemite Lodge with COVID restrictions for social distancing.
Base Camp Eatery Following Safety Guidelines for the COVID Pandemic

Transportation

Public transportation has come to a halt because of COVID. The Yosemite park shuttles are not operating at the moment, and there are no group bus tours running. The best way to get around while visiting Yosemite during the COVID pandemic is to ride your bike, walk, or drive your car.

Yosemite Valley Hybrid Visitor Shuttle Bus
Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus – Not Operating During COVID

Accommodations

Depending on the severity of the pandemic, in-park accommodations may or may not be open. When they are closed, the park will still be open for day use. When accommodations are available, you will find them operating at reduced capacity and incorporating the same increased hygiene procedures as most hotels. This involves frequent sanitation of common surfaces, reduced contact at check in and check out, and a 3 hour minimum wait period between guest check-out and cleaning service. Because of this 3 hour wait period, the check-in and check-out hours have changed: Check-in is at 5:00pm and check-out is at 10:00am.

Room cleaning and restocking will be suspended during your stay. This is to ensure no accidental germs are introduced to your room. Extra room supplies like towels can be requested at the front desk, or you’re welcome to bring your own.

Yosemite Lodge in Winter Snow
Yosemite Lodge in Winter Snow

Shopping

Be sure to check Yosemite’s list of store operating hours before your visit. Currently the main places open for groceries and souvenirs are the Village Store and the Lodge Gift Shop. These stores should carry anything needed, from first aid to gifts for the family. There are some additional gift items available at the Ahwahnee gift store. Masks are required in every store, and social distancing guidelines are enforced.

Village Store in Yosemite Valley
Village Store in Yosemite Valley

Want More Yosemite?

I have an Ultimate Yosemite Valley Travel Guide that includes all things Yosemite. Please note that post may include some activities and restaurants that are not open at the time of your visit. I also have a Yosemite Packing List for those who are planning their upcoming trips!

Have you visited Yosemite during the COVID pandemic lately and experienced the recent changes and restrictions? Feel free to leave me a comment below.