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Major Yosemite entrance has reopened, but an online reservation needed

By Carmen George
The Fresno Bee/TNS
El Capitan is reflected in the Merced River at sunset on Feb. 1, 2021, as California's Yosemite National Park reopens after being closed since Jan. 19, 2021, when a storm caused hazardous snow and wind conditions.

A major Yosemite National Park entrance that's been closed for a few weeks reopened Thursday, but visitors still need an online reservation to get into the popular park at least through February.

The park's south entrance via Highway 41 was closed for more than three weeks due to major wind damage.

Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass Ski Area reopened earlier this week. The ski resort is not operating, but there are cross-country ski paths there for those with their own gear.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias remains closed until further notice. At least 15 giant sequoias were reported to have fallen in the grove during the large Mono wind event last month.

Reservations to enter the park in February became available Feb. 1 on recreation.gov. Those with overnight lodging and camping reservations in Yosemite won't need a ticketed entry reservation to enter the park.

Yosemite officials said the temporary day-use reservation system was put in place largely due to COVID-19, to manage crowds that come to see the "firefall" phenomenon - where Horsetail Fall in Yosemite Valley can glow a golden orange at sunset from mid-to-late February. It's not yet known if reservations to enter the park will be needed past February.

These $2 day-use reservations via recreation.gov - which are required in addition to normal park fees at the entrances - were implemented in Yosemite for the first time last summer to reduce visitors due to COVID-19.

It works the same way it did then, officials said, with 20% of reservations available two days prior to a visit, and the other 80% released at the start of the month.

More information is available on Yosemite's website.

All Yosemite gates are open except for the park's eastern entrance, which doesn't open each year until late spring or summer, once snow along Tioga Road is plowed.