Author Topic: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes  (Read 1817 times)

rcjordan

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Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« on: August 14, 2017, 05:53:53 PM »
Ain't but one solution; raise the price. Too bad it's regressive.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-yosemite-traffic-20170809-htmlstory.html

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2017, 06:54:04 PM »
Saw this. These articles are

1. sort of true
2. totally overblown

The situation they describe is really mostly a holiday weekend issue. That said, weekend traffic is pretty bad. Our guests* went to the store last night. It should take about 1:30 (assuming 30 minutes in the store), but it took 2 hours.

At 3 million per year, Yosemite was easy - no traffic jams (barring road construction), not that hard to get a campsite

In 1996, Yosemite had 4 million visitors, but then the big flood closed the park for three months and it took until 2011 to hit 4 million visitors again and that felt like a sort of breaking point. We started seeing frequent traffic jams, parking lots filling up, people building reservation bots and selling reservations for campsites and Half Dome on Craigslist.

Last year we hit 5.2 million visitors and people started to wonder what the endpoint was. Clearly not sustainable and can't hit six million.

Quote
Ain't but one solution; raise the price

Ah... ye of little imagination. First of all, articles like this is probably one solution. When the LA Times incorrectly reported that you would no longer be able to drive your personal car in Yosemite, visitation dropped and didn't recover for a while. Lodging operators were fielding calls about this for six years and I still occasionally get inquiries from people who want to stay inside the park gates so they can drive their car in (the better, and correct, reason to stay inside the park gates is to not wait in line at the gate every day).

That said, other solutions proposed...

- A guy recently told me the obvious solution was to turn the two-lane road in Yosemite Valley into a four-lane road. When I told him that was never going to happen, he said "Don't be too sure. We have a new administration in Washington that has a different philosophy" and then went off on a rant about the right of the American people to visit their public lands any day of the year and it is up to the government to be sure that the infrastructure allows this... which I found a strange argument from someone who believes the govt should stay out of everything.

- The opposite: Edward Abbey said we should just take all roads out of the national parks and you can only enter on foot and crowding would go away overnight.

- a middle ground: no private vehicles. Entry only by foot or shuttle bus. People have been trying to crack this for Yosemite for years, but the issue is that there is no parking outside the park and so unlike Zion, you would be busing people for at least 1.5 hours and perhaps two. The Chambers of Commerce of the gateway communities will sue, unquestionably.

- a hybrid solution: high price of entry in a personal vehicle which subsidizes the shuttle system. This combines the problem of funding parking and running a shuttle system with the problem of being regressive (or tiered anyway) and is probably a non-starter.

- charge a lot. You probably live far enough away to be safe from the pitchforks.

- lottery system (as currently for Half Dome, Mt Whitney, rafting the Grand Canyon). I expect this to come in some form, but only after legal challenges from every Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board in the region.

Ultimately, some form of limiting entry will happen only as a result of a legal action. I think all of the above solutions are such hot potatoes that NPS won't touch any of them without a court order forcing them to do so. Even with a court order, I expect counter-suits and undoubtedly, in these times we live in, death threats to the superintendent.

*Said guests being bakedjake, Angela, Jake's sister and, just by coincidence, Ralf (pontifix)'s niece... for a mini-summit.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 06:56:44 PM by ergophobe »

Mackin USA

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 09:35:46 AM »
Mr. Jordan:

Have you been to the valley in Yosemite?

It is a well managed and wonderful experience
Mr. Mackin

rcjordan

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2017, 11:34:43 AM »
>Have you been to the valley in Yosemite?

Yes, 25 years ago.  We drove well into it, IIRC.  It was a traffic jam in the woods (but, in fairness, it was peak season).  Not sure about the valley.

If you've been to the Blue Ridge Parkway at peak season, you'll also sit in a traffic jam. East coast, west coast, it's all the same --too many people grinding the parks down to a nub.

Travoli

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2017, 12:58:03 PM »
ergophobe - If I had a day to hike one or two trails in Yosemite, what do I need to see?

Brad

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2017, 01:08:39 PM »
Visitor volume is up but funding for National Parks is at a low.  Nothing is free.  Our nearby National Lakeshore has half the staff they had 25 years ago and they were stretched thin back then.  Critical maintenance has to be constantly deferred because of chronic budget cuts.  The Park Service is trying very hard with what they have but budget cuts have gone to the bone with no end in sight, yet more visitors every year.  Something has to give.

rcjordan

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2017, 01:33:17 PM »
>grinding them to a nub

Quote
This study shows that rock climbing negatively affected the cliff plant community at all three study sites. A significant decrease in plant cover, species richness and a shift in the community composition were recorded for climbed areas, the cover being the variable most sensitive to rock climbing.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182414

Mackin USA

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2017, 01:49:14 PM »
TRAV

I done all the high mountain camps and climbed to peaks.

I would recommend https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/vernalnevadatrail.htm

Start early for it is very popular.

Waiting to see what the ranger says....
Mr. Mackin

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2017, 03:28:14 PM »
ergophobe - If I had a day to hike one or two trails in Yosemite, what do I need to see?

How far could you/would you want to go? What season?

The Mist Trail is definitely a great hike and definitely very crowded. If you're looking for a relatively short (less than a full day), it's a great choice. But there are many great choices from 0.2 miles (walk to Glacier Point) to circa 50 miles (Benson Lake loop, Clark Range loop).

But if you're talking about two shortish day hikes, I would say
 - Mist Trail
 - Mariposa Grove

Keeping in mind those will be the two most crowded hikes that you can do in the park, it behooves you to start early if you want some solitude. We had a family visit from Indiana who just never reset their watches. Got the the Mariposa Grove at 4:45 (a reasonable 7:45 Indiana time) and didn't see a soul until they were almost done

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2017, 03:33:09 PM »
Quote
This study shows that rock climbing negatively affected the cliff plant community at all three study sites. A significant decrease in plant cover, species richness and a shift in the community composition were recorded for climbed areas, the cover being the variable most sensitive to rock climbing.

Yup. I always try to ask people who are doing new routes - do we really need another route?

That said, a friend working with land managers on climber access said the feedback he got was that they liked working with climbers because climbers acknowledged that they did damage and the climber question was whether or not some level of damage in limited areas was acceptable. They said when they deal with the horse people, the horse people keep telling them that horses do no damage, which is patently false, which makes it hard to have a discussion.

But if you go to the most popular climbing sites, you can see there is a lot of wear and tear. Of course, the same is true of fishing (trails ringing every lake) not to mention driving (massive meadow damage). So the question is what is the acceptable level of degradation?

rcjordan

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2017, 11:51:16 AM »
>Ain't but one solution; raise the price

$70 Yosemite entrance fee: Big increases proposed for national parks

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/24/70-yosemite-entrance-fee-big-increases-proposed-for-parks/

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2017, 06:44:29 PM »
The official announcement is here
https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/10-24-2017-fee-changes-proposal.htm

 A few things to note
 - peak season only, so this is targeted at raising more money for maintenance and spreading out the load
 - the annual pass is being proposed at $75, just $5 extra

[rant]
In addition to the maintenance backlog, there is something that most people don't realize about the dark side of employment in the parks. When you go to a park like Yosemite and go to a ranger talk, there's a strong chance that the ranger giving you a talk in the high season is
 - part-time
 - has no benefits
 - is earning $15/hr or thereabouts
 - is paid out of grant money, not tax money
 - goes on unemployment in the winter
 - while on unemployment, "volunteers" in the park in a different department in order to keep housing. These volunteer positions can be 40 hours per week (actually one volunteer I know worked over 50 hours regularly and logged more hours over the winter than any full-time paid employee in his department).  So effectively, the cost of that employee over the winter is born by the *state* while the feds skate through cost free.

The situation is, generally, better for people like electricians and such (who are not "rangers").

Overall, though, I find the whole thing exploitative and it hides the true costs of running the parks from the public who don't realize that their state taxes are also paying part of the labor cost (effectively)
[/rant]

rcjordan

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2017, 07:37:56 PM »
Parents should forbid their kids to aspire to be park rangers or architects. Neither pays for crap.

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2017, 08:12:22 PM »
At least if they try to become park rangers, they'll get some nice outdoor time and not a lot of debt.

Lawyers, on the other hand... https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/28/law-schools-hunkering-down-enrollment-slips/430213001/

rcjordan

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Re: Yosemite struggles to find an answer to traffic woes
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2021, 03:04:00 PM »
<warp>

Overcrowded US national parks need a reservation system
https://theconversation.com/overcrowded-us-national-parks-need-a-reservation-system-158864