Yosemite limits visitors, citing continuing problems with human waste during shutdown

Only visitors with hotel or camping reservations will be allowed to enter Yosemite National Park's south entrance during peak hours, officials said.
Only visitors with hotel or camping reservations will be allowed to enter Yosemite National Park’s south entrance during peak hours, officials said.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Yosemite National Park is limiting entry to its south entrance because of a continuing problem with feces and trash along popular routes in the park. Only visitors with lodging or camping reservations in Yosemite Valley and other park sites will be allowed in on California Highway 41 north of Oakhurst.

Rangers will staff a checkpoint to enforce restrictions from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the highway, also known as Wawona Road, a news release from park officials said Wednesday. All other visitors may enter farther north along El Portal Road, or California Highway 140.

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The road limitations mean it may take longer for visitors to get to popular places within the park, such as the Ski & Snowboard Area at Badger Pass, which remains open because it is run by a private company.

Park officials blamed the closure on “continuing issues with human waste and resource damage” related to the partial federal government shutdown that began Dec. 22. Two campgrounds and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias were shut Monday because of hazards posed by visitors relieving themselves on the sides of roads.

National parks in the West remain open without collecting fees, but visitor centers and bathrooms have been shut and trash services suspended because most park staff have been on furlough since the funding pause.

To try to offset the damage, Yosemite visitors are being asked to use restrooms before they enter the park and to take out all their trash.

Yosemite isn’t the only park affected by unchecked tourism. Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday closed campgrounds to overnight stays because bathrooms were at near capacity. The move leaves the park open to day-use only.


Death Valley National Park also has been feeling the strain of overused outhouses and uncollected trash, though the Furnace Creek Visitor Center reopened after a nonprofit organization made a donation.

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