7 destinations reopening in California now that stay-home order is lifted

·4 min read
The Inn at Death Valley in Death Valley National Park.
The Inn at Death Valley in Death Valley National Park plans to reopen Friday. (Xanterra Travel Collection)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s rollback of statewide COVID-19 rules on Monday startled local officials, park rangers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and others. Within minutes they were scrambling to reopen lodgings, campgrounds and restaurants.

But in some cases — especially in Yosemite National Park — the reopening effort was complicated by fresh damage from winter storms. Some sites, such as the Inn at Death Valley, were expected to reopen by Friday.

For others, including portions of Yosemite National Park, the timetable remains uncertain.

Now that the state has stepped back from the Regional Stay Home order that banned overnight vacations and closed restaurant patios in most of the state, county officials are deciding what businesses can open and how they will be allowed to operate.

Most counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Mono, since Monday have reverted to previous “purple tier” restrictions that permit leisure travelers to stay overnight at hotels and other lodgings. A spokesman for the California Hotel & Lodging Assn., Pete Hillan, said he was unaware of any counties still forbidding overnight vacations. Here are some places starting to reopen:

State parks campgrounds

California State Parks on Thursday announced "the reopening of campground sites for existing reservation holders" but was unable to say how many of its campgrounds that included. The agency said its campgrounds, most of which have been closed by state orders, would reopen under a phased plan beginning Thursday. It urged prospective campers to check their parks' web pages, social media accounts and reservecalifornia.com (where reservations typically can be made two or more days in advance) for fresh news.

Death Valley National Park

In Death Valley, the Inn at Death Valley and Ranch at Death Valley, both run by the Xanterra Travel Collection as the Oasis, were expected to open Friday. The resort’s restaurant operations were to reopen that day as well.

Death Valley National Park spokeswoman Abigail Wines said the park was expected to open the following campgrounds, also on Friday: Furnace Creek, Texas Springs, Sunset, Saline Valley, Eureka Dunes and Homestake. That leaves Stovepipe Wells, Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike and Mahogany Flat campgrounds closed, with no reopening date set.

Wines said that Stovepipe Wells hotel will reopen soon, but managers must first rehire employees.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park officials said they hoped to open western entrances to the park Monday, but major wind storm damage in the Wawona and Mariposa Grove areas, including dozens of felled trees and damaged or destroyed structures, will keep the park’s southern entrance, Wawona Road (Highway 41), closed for much longer.

“We are anticipating several weeks” before visitors can enter from the south, park spokesman Scott Gediman said. As of Wednesday, he said, electricity was still out in the Wawona area.

Also, there are so many downed trees along Glacier Point Road, Gediman said, that “we have not been up that road yet.”

For Monday’s reopening, Gediman said, the entrances admitting traffic will be El Portal Road (Highway 140), Hetch Hetchy Road and Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), which enters the park from the west. Visitors will have access to Yosemite Valley.

Besides the closure of Wawona Road, several other areas south of Yosemite Valley will be closed to visitors, including Mariposa Grove, Badger Pass, Wawona and Tunnel View.

In reopening, Yosemite is returning to 24-hour operations. The park had been on restricted hours.

The Yosemite Valley Lodge and the Ahwahnee Hotel are set to reopen Feb. 5.

The park’s Upper Pines Campground will reopen Feb. 8.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, which like Yosemite is coping with storm damage and evolving COVID restrictions, started reopening campgrounds Thursday.

Its popular Hidden Valley Campground has reopened on a first-come, first-served basis. The Cottonwood, Cottonwood Group Camp, Indian Cove, Indian Cove Group Camp, Black Rock and Black Rock Equestrian campgrounds are also expected to be open for reservations.

The park’s Belle, Ryan, Jumbo Rocks, Sheep Pass and White Tank campgrounds are to open Monday.

Channel Islands National Park

Island Packers, the Ventura-based concession that runs year-round boat trips to the park’s islands, resumed service on Friday. For now, boats are unable to call at the not-quite-completed pier at Santa Cruz Island’s Scorpion Anchorage.

Channel Islands Adventure Co. said it hopes to resume offering kayak tours at Scorpion Anchorage on Feb. 9.

Island Packers also has resumed offering gray-whale-watching trips from Ventura Harbor and Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, with its boats operating at reduced capacity.

A national park spokeswoman said most of its campgrounds (except for Scorpion Anchorage) were expected to reopen Friday

Palm Springs resorts

In Riverside County, the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau told its members that hotels and other lodging can resume accepting leisure travelers, restaurants can resume outdoor dining, and zoos and museums can restart outdoor operations.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is reopening Saturday for visitors who have advance-purchase tickets.

Updates:
1:48 PM, Jan. 29, 2021: Updated throughout.

10:46 AM, Jan. 29, 2021:

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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