Ash Mountain wait times can be avoided

Ash Mountain wait times
Backups at the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park during 10 am-12 noon on busy summer weekends can stretch up to two miles — the portion of Highway 198 that was dedicated in 2019 as a memorial highway. Colonel Charles Young was a captain whlie he served as Sequoia’s military superintendent in 1903. Black Lives Matter.

 

Life in the slow lane

If you live, work, or own a business in the two miles from Salt Creek Drive on Highway 198 (St Anthony Retreat turnoff) to the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, you have witnessed this recurring scene. Every Saturday and Sunday, traffic begins to back up at 10:00 a.m. In the next 20 minutes, that back up extends more than a mile to the Totem Market. By 10:45 a.m. the backup can be all the way to the bridge at Salt Creek Drive. Ash Mountain wait times

That two-mile backup can take 1.5 hrs. to reach the park gate. The longer wait times, so far this summer, have occurred on Saturday. Sunday is averaging around one hour delays and there is little that Sequoia Park officials can do about it. Ash Mountain wait times

Entrance station rangers, with one in each building stradding a lane of entering traffic can only do so much.  Two more rangers are stationed curbside (normally the employee lane) under a pop-up canopy.  This lane is reserved for fast pass, those who have annula passes or have paid online.

Problem with the fast lane it can take up to two hours just to get the chance to save a half-dozen car lengths. Park officials have said their hands are tied in part because they cant’t add the fourth entrance lane used last year because two employees in an entrance building cannot be properly distanced.

The lines of hundreds of cars idling their engines only makes poor summer air quality that much worse.  One hotel owner said the lineups themselves are not unbearable but there are always some folks who insist on making an annoying situation even worse. They throw take-out food trash as they go and deficate wherever.    

Here’s what you can do to speed things along. Firstly, if you are planning on going to Sequoia enter before 9:30 a.m. or after 12 noon. It’s that simple. Ash Mountain wait times

To enter during prime time be sure to prepay online and have passes and paperwork ready to show at the gate.  There may be a more permanent solution in the offing too. Park planners are looking at the feasibility of moving the entrance station to where the visitor center is now located. That would put the major portion of the back-up inside park boundaries and off Highway 198 in Three Rivers.  

 

Ash Mountain wait times
Pre-paying park entrance fees can save precious park time for the visitor when they enter during prime times on Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 12 noon during the busy summer season.

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6 thoughts on “Ash Mountain wait times can be avoided

  • July 31, 2020 at 8:00 am
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    Local merchants have been talking to park officials for at least 4 years now about moving the entrance to the visitor center and make it the same type of entrance that the Hwy 180 side has. Back ups to Salt Creek used to very few but we are seeing them more and more with it backing up to Skyline at times.
    I love our National Park but need they need to take responsability for this problem and as is mentioned in the article the problem with trash being thrown on the side of the road during these back-ups is a huge problem.

    Reply
  • July 31, 2020 at 9:33 am
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    We could also move to an online reservation system like they’re using in Yosemite. Yes, it will not be as easy to have a spontaneous trip to the park, but the park experience will be much more pleasant, and the people who live in that two mile stretch will be able to lead normal lives again. It might be worth testing this kind of system for a short period at some point to see if it will work for us, and what any downsides might be.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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    I have been working at the Buckeye next to the entrance for three summers and the only times we really had bad back ups the last two summers was Labor Day weekend. This year since June 12th weekend there has been a line every single Saturday. We cannot get to work, our guests can’t grab breakfast and return to their rooms as early as 8am. This year I am told there is one less line open because two staff members couldn’t be so close in the booth. Predictable patterns are avoidable, and such impact to our community must be avoided. I will reach out to the park directly as well.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm
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      Also, the impact of spontaneous bathroom breaks alongside the road and toilet paper everywhere from such long lines!

      Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 5:47 pm
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      Actually this has been happening for 4-5 years during the summer. This year is worst ever seen but the park has known this is an issue for a very long time.

      Reply
  • August 3, 2020 at 8:31 pm
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    Funny they would think of moving the entrance station to Ash Mountain Headquarters. That is where it used to be when I was growing up. I guess what comes around !!

    Reply

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