El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (Craig Miller/KQED).
El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (Craig Miller/KQED).

Here’s a sign that those Senate and House votes to end the government shutdown were for real: Yosemite National Park announced it’s opening to visitors immediately (see the press release below). I made some calls up to Yosemite well after normal business hours, and couldn’t get anyone from the National Park Service on the phone. Then I called a couple of the hotel and accommodations sites that have been closed during the shutdown to see if we might be able to get a room for the night — you know, tonight. The Ahwahnee and the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls said they wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow. But Curry Village said it could take walk-ins. With a full moon coming and beautiful fall weather ahead, I wish I could just get in the car and go.

The National Park Service website is still down at this writing (about 9:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday), so now online word is available about what’s happening at Bay Area attractions that are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And no one’s been answering the phone at various park facilities or with the Alcatraz tour charter operator. I’d be willing to bet, though, that the Park Service will be following Yosemite’s lead and trying to get everything open immediately. (We’ll test that assumption with some actual reporting tomorrow.)

Below is the Yosemite press release, which was actually forwarded by the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority. As KQED’s Scott Detrow reported last week, the county has been hit by twin disasters in the past couple of months — the Rim Fire that shut down the late summer tourist season in much of the Yosemite region and the government shutdown. The Coalition of Park Service Retirees released a study last week that estimated the costs associated with shutting down the national parks. The report estimated that Yosemite lost about 107,000 visitors and about $10 million in the first 10 days of the shutdown and that the closure threatened 1,000 Park Service jobs and 4,600 other jobs in the area.

Facilities and services reopened

Yosemite National Park reopens to park visitors tonight, October 16, 2013. Visitors can access public areas and roads immediately while facilities and other public services are brought back on-line. Yosemite National Park has been closed since October 1, 2013 due to the government shutdown.

“We are excited to reopen and welcome visitors back to Yosemite,” stated park superintendent Don Neubacher. “Autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy Yosemite’s colorful grandeur.”

Major highways and roads leading into and through Yosemite National Park, including the Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove roads, are open to vehicles. Park visitor centers will reopen and Ranger-led programs will resume on October 17.

Visitors are urged to consult the Yosemite Guide for a list of programs.

Valley campgrounds in Yosemite will reopen on October 17. Those with reservations will be able to check in by noon. First come, first serve sites at Camp Four, Wawona and Hodgdon are also available.

Delaware North Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the park’s primary concessioner, is reopening facilities and will begin to welcome guests immediately.

The Ansel Adams Gallery, located in Yosemite Village, will also reopen.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

Twitter: twitter.com/danbrekke
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