Yosemite National Park is typically a hubbub of tourist activity, and quiet is rare. But the park seems to have become the natural haven it was supposed to be. These days, Great Black Bears strutting proudly past administered buildings are not uncommon..
And if fortune smiles. Upon you, you may even come across the nearly extinct Bighorn atop the mountains. Well, we can’t be one of those lucky tourists, at least not yet.
Rangers still deny entry to the arguably best-known park in California. But those who have the good fortune of being able to enter the premises will feel as though they have stepped back a few eras to when animals ruled and humans were few and far between.
Quite a Different Spring for Yosemite National Park
Like most tourist attractions in the United States and all over the world, Yosemite National Park closed on March 20 to stop COVID-19 from gaining a foothold. Just a few park employees remain to tend to the grounds.
April is the busiest month on Yosemite’s calendar, with most tourists paying it a visit during this time. It also means noise and other forms of pollution. This spring, though, is a little different. There are no unwanted exhaust fumes, and the air seems crisper than before.
Other than the lively sound of the Merce River rushing by, and the wind blowing through the pine trees, visitors can only hear themselves speak. Yosemite seems to be one of the best places to be isolated. People have certainly taken advantage of the thinned-out crowds, jogging, cycling, and giving the scenery its due appreciation.
Wildlife Is Reclaiming the Park
And why not – the sun seems warmer on the skin than before. People aren’t the only ones relishing Yosemite’s rare tranquility. Wildlife is emerging from the shadows, as it did during other mandated park closures. Staff at the park have commented that its bear population has increased fourfold.
The Bobcats and coyotes that usually stay unseen are in Yosemite’s open spaces. With Yosemite being tourist-free, one can witness spring in full force. The air seems clearer than before, and the vegetation a lush green.
One can see coyotes taking their places at the apex of the food chain. It’s now not uncommon to find one feasting on an unfortunate gray squirrel.
The Only People Who Enjoy This Natural Heaven Are the Park’s Employees
The few people around – the park’s employees – are now able to embrace Yosemite in its full glory. Many hike around picturesque areas like Mirror Lake, enjoying the empty trails.
The park is virus-free, and although no one wears masks, the employees are making sure that it stays that way.
There is little need to practice social distancing, except at the Village Market, which admits only 10 people at once. The greatest virus risk comes from people who own property in the Redwood and Foresta areas, city folk who may unknowingly transfer the virus. They gain entry only if they can produce the deeds to their homes.
Only employees can enter the park gates. Plexiglass sheets separate employees from customers. Store managers prohibit the use of cloth bags, seeing them, and a potential virus source.
Yosemite’s shutdown has dealt with nearby businesses a stunning blow. Like other parks, it closed following accusations that the Interior Department had not done so fast enough.
Yosemite National Park today is reminiscent of what it once was. Geological miracles like the Half-Dome now remind people of the Earth as it once was and should be. Yosemite is a symbol of endurance and shows us how the human spirit can triumph over adversity.