Pierre Celotto and Aurene Humbert had a definite vision in mind when they booked a summer vacation that included a day in Yosemite Valley.
Urged on by breathtaking photographs and nature documentaries, the Parisians said, they looked forward to serene walks along trails where pine trees threw shadows across streams and picturesque meadows teemed with wildlife.
When they arrived at the park on Saturday, Celloto, 31, and Humbert, 29, were greeted by the reality: diesel smoke, honking horns and miles-long processions of buses and cars.
It was close to 10 a.m. when Humbert, her face long and her voice desperate, approached a ranger. “Please, sir, do you know a place to park? You can’t imagine how upset we are.”
The ranger was sympathetic, but not much help: “Keep looking; you might get lucky.”
Despite promises of a “far less cluttered and confused Yosemite” made in a 2013 management plan — an effort to address the congestion without limiting the number of tourists — more vehicles than ever, up to 8,200 on a summer day, are clogging the valley known for its granite cliffs and waterfalls.
On especially busy weekends, visitors who must wait just to pay an entrance fee of $30 per car may find themselves diverted to alternate routes away from the valley or back out of the park.
On the day Celotto and Humbert arrived, signs at the park’s main entrances warned of delays three hours or longer. Traffic in a new roundabout near Yosemite Lodge had slowed to a crawl. Nearby, dozens of cars were…Read More