Can you drive into Yosemite Valley at night?
April 24, 2014 8:02 PM   Subscribe

We're hoping to drive to Yosemite tomorrow night, will be arriving at the South gate around 11pm. I've been searching the website for the gate hours, but can't find any. Will we be able to get in at the South gate (or any other gates) that late?
posted by brenton to Travel & Transportation around Yosemite Valley, CA (9 answers total)
Yosemite is open 24/7 365 days a year with the exceptions of the Hetch Hetchy entrance, which is open only during daylight hours, and those entrances (Tioga road) which are seasonally blocked by snow.
posted by rockindata at 8:15 PM on April 24, 2014

Operating hours.
posted by empath at 8:15 PM on April 24, 2014

Yeah, I'd already seen that page... but do they really have people up at 3am accepting the entrance fees?

I am not sure if either of you are answering because you know, or if you just found that page and posted the link. It seems ambiguous to me. (What if the park is open, but not the gates?)
posted by brenton at 8:36 PM on April 24, 2014

You get in for free, but then pay on your way out.
posted by visual mechanic at 8:37 PM on April 24, 2014

Yeah -- if there's nobody manning the gate when you go through, you don't pay then.

If you exit when a ranger is manning the gate, they'll ask to see your receipt (which they generally tape to the inside of your windshield when you enter). Since you won't have one, I think Visual Mechanic is right, and they might ask for it, and then you pay then. However, if you exit when there is no ranger at the gate, then there is nobody to take your money.

You can always go pay voluntarily sometime during your visit, of course.

The gates are always open to the main valley and the wawona (south) entrance -- even if the guard/toll booth is not manned, the gate is open.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:48 PM on April 24, 2014

I've been through the gates at Yosemite at like 4 am to get in line at camp 4. There wasn't anyone there to check, but the gates were open. We paid our fee (or actually flashed our annual pass) on the way out.
posted by rockindata at 8:56 PM on April 24, 2014

The above posters are correct - at National Parks, the gates are open at night and you're on the honor system to pay your fee. Nowadays I generally get the Parks Pass every year, but when I was a poor student, we took advantage of this on nearly every road trip. I've entered Yosemite after hours and it's no different than at all the other western National Parks (I've been to most of them). The one time there *was* a ranger after hours, it was to turn us back because the valley was under eight feet of flooding (Winter 1996-97).
posted by notsnot at 9:45 PM on April 24, 2014

I would add a recommendation to drive slowly and keep an eye out for wildlife on the road at night. I've seen plenty of deer slowly ambling across the road at night in the valley, more than other areas, and wouldn't be surprised if the valley had a higher than average concentration of them due to the availability of people food. Just something to keep in mind.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 10:56 PM on April 24, 2014

I've camped in the valley before heading out into the backcountry on backpacking trips. There are people arriving at the crowded campsite at all hours of the night, unfortunately. Slamming car doors, shouting to each other, activating their car alarms, and otherwise making a racket setting up their campsites. You can definitely get in the park during the night.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:42 AM on April 25, 2014

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