Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in a pandemic

 

Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon
There were 16 visitors who climbed to the top of Moro Rock for the rise of the full moon on Saturday, July 4. All were encouraged to social distance while two, including this climber, donned masks. Sarah Santos, photo

 

Attendance feeling the effects

In terms of numbers of visitors entering Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, summer weekdays have been about 20-45 percent below average compared to the last three years. Weekends, however, have seen nearly equal visitation compared to 2017-2019. 

The 4th of July holiday weekend saw an increase of 17 percent for the Sequoia entrance and a decrease of six percent for the Kings Canyon entrance, compared to the past three years. Combined visitation was approximately seven percent above average for the holiday weekend compared to the past three years. July 4th, landing on a Saturday, was undoubtedly a factor in 2020 spike.
Vehicle backups at the Ash Mountain Entrance Station will be longer in 2020 than previous summers. In the past, one of the outbound lanes was used as an additional entry lane, but due to COVID-19 safety mitigations, the NPS is not placing two employees in a tight booth for prolonged periods of time, therefore, that fourth lane isn’t being utilized at this time. Visitors can speed up entrance by paying entrance fees or purchasing park passes online before arriving, via www.recreation.gov. Ash Mountain also has a dedicated lane on busy weekends for people who have gone through this process. Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Potwisha, Lodgepole, and Sunset campgrounds are now open at about half capacity by reservation only, with the majority of available sites already booked for the entire summer. Opening dates for more campgrounds and other recreation sites, are yet to be determined.

Lee Taylor is filling the vacancy of Superintendent Woody Smeck, who was promoted to the Western region office in June. Taylor is on an interim assignment from her job as Deputy Superintendent at Olympic National Park. It’s conceivable that this is a trial run for Taylor but Sequoia’s top post is highly sought after among  agency superintendents.  

 

Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon
This site appears ready and waiting for campers at Atwell Mill Campground in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. Opening dates are yet to be annouced.

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