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By the Numbers: Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park


Patrol cars like this were kept plenty busy. Photo by tomsaint11 via Flickr.

Charles Cuvelier, Deputy Chief Ranger at Yosemite National Park, reported that Memorial Day weekend saw heavy traffic converging on the park all three days. Lines began forming at the entrances as early as 7:00 a.m. and continued into late afternoon.

Lots of cars plus lots of visitors equals lots of work for the rangers.


Telephone calls handled by the park’s dispatch center during the three-day holiday weekend. Unfortunately, heavy thunderstorm activity earlier in the week caused a telephone outage throughout much of the Mather District. The outage continued through the Memorial Day weekend, further complicating operations in the park.


Incidents dealt with by rangers.


Vehicle stops in the park.


Motor vehicle accidents. Some of these yielded personal injuries. On Sunday, May 24, Tuolumne rangers responded to a motorcycle crash in which the operator was seriously injured, sustaining a lower leg fracture and a dislocated shoulder.


Medical assistance calls.


Incidents requiring the use of air ambulances. One of these was the medevac of a 60 year-old woman who suffered a cervical spine fracture in a ground-level fall with loss of consciousness at Olmsted Point on Saturday, May 23.

Postscript: Mixing family autos, RVs, delivery trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles on the park’s busy roads sets the stage for accidents that sometimes have tragic outcomes. On May 29, a cyclist from South Korea was killed in bicycle-auto collision on Yosemite Valley’s busy Southside Drive .


When I left that weekend it sure was a mess.

It seems as if not much has changed over the decades. On Memorial Day weekend 1970, crowds and gathering of Bay Area youths in campgrounds and meadows were such that a precursor developed to what eventually became the infamous Stoneman Meadow Riot of July 4th, 1970. It was very much a mess then too. Later that summer, the traffic was eliminated from the east end of Yosemite Valley and the main roadways were converted to one-way traffic.

Managing the number of cars and the conjestion of visitors for an optimum experience is a major NPS challenge in Yosemite. I hope the falls were at least full and thunderous.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Owen seems to have quite the memory - from nearly 40 years earlier, Wow, I'm impressed!

I would love to read about the famous Stoneman Meadow Riot, sounds like a trip!

Though at such a busy time of the year, I don't think you can Blame it all on youth from the Bay area.

But i Always wondered about why the roadways became one-way at the time. Now i know!

Sorry this comment is so long in coming; I only just now read Owen's entry. Hope he's still Around to fill us in with more details!

Thanks In advance. Or maybe someone else who remembers the riots?

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