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.
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