Collaboration between Yosemite National Park officials and their gateway communities is producing more transportation options for you to reach the park, options that could help reduce congestion in the Yosemite Valley.
Under the plan announced by Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher, each of the four primary gateways to the park -- along Highways 120 east and west, Highway 41, and Highway 140 -- has designed a program tailored to their specific community. The objective of these programs is to entice visitors to spend time in the communities before and after their Yosemite visit, which will help ease traffic congestion and expand parking availability within the park.
The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS), which has provided bus service into the park since 2000, will be an integral part of the new program. There will be expanded runs to supplement the existing YARTS service along the Highway 120 east and Highway 140 corridors leading into Yosemite Valley. Highway 120 west, originating from Sonora, will offer YARTS runs for the first time. YARTS provides an alternative to driving a private vehicle into the park. For a complete YARTS schedule, including the expanded runs, please check out this site.
Additionally, each gateway community has designed specific programs tailored to visitors that pass through their region on their way to Yosemite National Park. Mariposa will offer trolley/wagon rides through the historic downtown. Oakhurst, Mariposa, and Tuolumne County (Sonora and Groveland) will also have Yosemite Park rangers working at the visitor centers in town and offer special ranger programs. Mono County has produced an informational brochure highlighting activities for visitors to experience in the region, and national park rangers will staff the Mono Basin Visitor Center throughout the summer.
The overall goal of the expanded YARTS bus runs and programs in the communities is to alleviate heavy traffic congestion the park receives during peak hours of summer days. It is hoped that visitors, en route to Yosemite Valley, will enter the park either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, thus avoiding the peak congestion times. Additionally, the program emphasizes that a trip to Yosemite National Park is more than just a trip to Yosemite Valley. The beneficiaries of this program, which results in a better visitor experience, are the park visitors, the gateway communities, and Yosemite National Park.
This is the first formal program between the park and the gateway communities that aims to smooth the peak travel times into Yosemite Valley. The park has been working with each of the gateways on developing their specific programs. Each of the programs will be implemented around the Memorial Day Weekend. At this time, the programs are in place for the summer 2012 season. At the end of the season, the programs will be evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley.