What it's like to visit Yosemite + Mammoth after 3 months of closing

TL,DR: Yosemite is a lot less crowded, main bathrooms were still open, masks required indoors at all locations, and I felt very safe from COVID19 while being able to enjoy responsible recreation.

Yosemite reopened June 11, 2020 after having shutdown in March 2020 due to COVID19.

My college roomie Chanrith and I went for his 30th bday weekend June 27-28, and it was a great way to opt outside for responsible recreation. (also, a majority of these pics will be from Chanrith's iPhone that is fancier than mine).


I recommend visiting if you can get an online reservation, since passes are limited and there are a lot less visitors than normal, and it is definitely possible to socially distance from other groups/hikers.

We entered Yosemite Valley through the 120 around 9-10 AM on a Saturday- and it still took about 15-20 minutes to enter with 3 lanes of cars entering. Most people were processing their online registration.


Once you show your reservation, they give you a permit that matches your vehicle's license plate number, so make sure you will be taking the same vehicle for the entire trip.

Our first day itinerary was to drive through Tioga Pass to Mammoth, where we would be spending the night. We stopped by Olmsted Point, where the parking lot was maybe 75% full.



Next was Tenaya Lake, where there was also plenty of parking surrounding the lake and lots of space in the campground and picnic area parking lots.




Our next stop was Tuolumne Meadows, where there was still plenty of parking along the road, and we were the only car at the visitor center bathroom. This was also our first "hike," a half mile walk to Soda Springs. We ran into maybe 4-12 people along the walk.





After Tuolumne, we drove to Mono Lake, where we did a mini hike near Tufa State Natural Reserve.



the lake was filled with flies:




We then drove to Mammoth Lakes, where we would be spending the night and I wanted to check out the Devil's Postpile. Chanrith had a National Park Pass, so we got the $10 entrance fee waived. Driving down to the trailhead is very precarious, and I would recommend only if you have a 4 wheel drive and in a small SUV.

Devil's Postpile just opened the day before, and it's just a .4-.5 mile hike from the trailhead.


If you continue another 2.5 miles, you get to Rainbow Falls.


You have to descend some stairs, which are not fun to go back up.


Other than the stairs, the 5 mile roundtrip hike is easy and family friendly. But the only bathroom is at the trailhead. The hike has some nice scenery along the way also!




We then drove to our hotel, and ate at some local places.

The next morning, we woke up around 6 AM and hiked to natural hot springs near Mammoth.
The drive to Wild Willy's required some non paved driving, but it was definitely worth it.



Around 7 AM, we had the hot springs to ourselves.

On the way back, we made a quick detour to Convict Lake:


After takeout brunch, we made our way back to Yosemite, planning to check out the Valley.
We hiked along Tenaya Lake also, where the trailhead to Cloud's Rest also is. The hike around the Lake is 3-4 miles. We saw maybe 2-4 hikers along this trail.









Afterwards, we drove to the Valley, where there was plenty of parking along the road:





The trail to Bridalveil was partially reopened.


The only really full spot was Yosemite Falls, the only time we failed to park right at the trailhead.
But the walk to the lower falls was not crowded at all.




We then made a stop at Yosemite Village, which was hardly crowded. Everyone wore a mask inside the store.

Our last stop was Valley View, which had an almost full parking lot:


If you want to go to Yosemite with less of a crowd, now is the time to go! I also actually got cell-service inside the park for the first time, but mostly near the Village. It's definitely possible to Opt Outside and engage in responsible recreation.

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