Photos: Here’s what Yosemite looks like one year after the animals took over

A large waterfall under a starry nighttime sky
Yosemite Falls is seen under a starry sky Sunday night. Yosemite National Park is open at a reduced capacity and will require reservations to drive into the park starting May 21.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

It was a year ago that Yosemite National Park closed its gates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the animals took over. Campgrounds were empty and the trails were devoid of people.

One year later, the stars are out, the crowds are back and, well, the animals, they’re just chillin’.

Currently, the park’s target is to allow about 50% of the average June vehicle entry rate (which equates to 3,600 vehicle entries each day).

Reservations will be required to drive into Yosemite beginning May 21. Some services and facilities are limited, and shuttles are not operating.

Here’s a look inside Yosemite one year after the closure.

Campfires are back

A man with a guitar lies against a rock as a group of teenagers surrounds a campfire
Students from Steamboat Mountain School in Steamboat Springs, Colo., gather around a Yosemite campfire.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Spring has sprung

Closeup of yellow flowers on a thin branch
Dogwood trees are in bloom in the Yosemite Valley.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Trail traffic

About 10 hikers walk on a trail between boulders and rocks
Hikers take Mist Trail to Vernal Falls in Yosemite.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Park locals

Two grown deer and two small ones graze on a tree with purple flowers in the grass
Deer feed on a redbud tree in bloom in the Yosemite Valley.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Diptych of a small gray bird with blue wings on a rock, and a small deer standing in the grass
Left, a Steller’s jay. At right, a young deer.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The deer, bobcats, coyotes and bears no longer have to deal with the hordes of camera-toting tourist vying to capture nature. They now roam unfettered.

April 13, 2020

One year ago, the animals reigned

Diptych of a bobcat crouched next to a tree stump, and a closeup of a squirrel with its cheeks puffed out and full
Left, a bobcat hunts for a meal. At right, a squirrel with its cheeks filled.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A coyote stands in a clearing with a bird seen flying out of focus in the foreground
A coyote wanders around Curry Village in Yosemite looking for a meal.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Climbers get their footing in 2021

A few climbers on ropes ascend the side of a sheer rock face, seen from a distance
Climbers make their way up El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A chilly dip in the Merced River

A man in shorts wades out of a shallow river in Yosemite
Christian Cossio of San Diego takes a dip in the Merced River. ”I came at 3 a.m. to beat the traffic,” he said. “It feels emptier, less traffic, than normal.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Family swing

Three young children swing in a red hammock
From left, Charlotte Briggs, 6; Grace Briggs, 7; and Samuel Briggs, 9, on a hammock as they camp in Yosemite with their parents, Tim and Francesca Briggs, of the Bay Area city of Brentwood.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Parting shot

A hiker is silhouetted against a large waterfall
A hiker treks past Vernal Falls along the Mist Trail in the Yosemite Valley.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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