Two consecutive lawsuits and three plans and we still haven’t properly resolved the Yosemite Valley dilemma. It’s one of the most gorgeous spots in the world, but that can be hard to appreciate in summertime when you spend most of your time staring at the rear bumper of the car in front of you because of traffic so intense that people can walk faster than you can drive. And that’s saying something, because the throngs of people are so dense that getting from Point A to Point B on foot can involve a fair amount of pedestrian maneuvering, braking and cutting in front.
The answer, according to the National Park Service, is not to reduce the number of people who can visit the valley, or the cars, but to eliminate a vintage ice-skating rink, raft and bike rentals, and horse rides. More campsites but no pools at the hotels.
As overcrowded as the valley gets—close to 20,000 people a day in peak season--the first part of that plan makes some sense. People come from all over the country, all over the world, to see Yosemite in summer. Would they have to buy advance tickets? That seems like a sad way to operate a national park. Even worse would be turning them away at the guard gate once the valley gets too full; imagine some family from China or Germany that had planned a Yosemite day on their summer U.S. tour, only to be rejected at the gate. (Though there are plenty of other beautiful, if not quite as iconic, places to visit nearby.) The skating rink isn't well used, and yes, more campsites would be wildly popular. So far, so good.