Visiting a national park in 2021 is a completely different experience. Some national parks require reservations or entry permits, while others may have limited services. And then there are the crowds. People are being turned away from Arches National Park at 8 AM because the entrance line backs up to the highway, and when we visited Glacier National Park last week there was no parking at Logan Pass at 8 AM. Usually getting to a national park early in the morning will give you the edge, but that’s not always the case in 2021. Continue reading
If a Southwestern US road trip is in your future, please take note that the Navajo Nation tribal parks are currently closed due to COVID-19. The Navajo Nation’s roads also remain closed to visitors and tourists until further notice. This includes the following parks and recreation areas. Continue reading
Beginning on May 21, 2021 Yosemite National Park will require day-use visitors to hold a reservation to enter the park. Visitors who have camping or lodging reservations will not be required to have day-use reservations. Continue reading
If you’re thinking about visiting Zion National Park this year, you’ll need to plan ahead, as a new shuttle ticketing system has been implemented in the park. Private vehicles are not permitted in Zion Canyon, and in normal years a free on-demand shuttle bus runs from the visitor center to trailheads and viewpoints in the canyon. Of course this is not a normal year, and due to COVID-19 shuttle capacity has been reduced in 2021, and a timed shuttle bus ticketing system has been implemented. Continue reading
On February 1, 2021 the Center for Disease Control issued new requirements for mandatory mask wearing on all interstate transportation, including US airlines. Although most airlines already required masks, this CDC order makes masking-up a requirement for most people to fly. There are however a few exceptions.
- Children under 2
- Cases where it would create a workplace safety issue
- Passengers who cannot safely wear a mask due to a disability
That said, it’s not like you can just stroll up to the gate and declare that you are going mask-free due to your disability. Some advance preparation is required. First and foremost, contact your airline, because exemption policies will likely differ from carrier to carrier.
For example, as of February 1, 2021 American Airlines requires customers who are unable to wear a face mask due to their disability, to contact the Special Assistance department at least 72 hours in advance. Documentation from a licensed health care provider as well as a negative COVID-19 test are also required.
Some airlines may also require passengers requesting mask exemptions to:
- Request this accommodation in advance
- Check in early
- Be evaluated by the airline’s medical expert
And then there are other airlines that remain silent regarding a medical exemption from wearing face masks. Personally I would check the airline’s exemption policy before I booked a flight if I was unable to mask-up due to a disability.
It’s good that a medical exemption is now possible, but the key phrase here is “plan ahead”.
I distinctly remember a girlfriends getaway camping trip to Death Valley many, many moons ago. We were young and foolish and the only time we could all get together was near the end of May. Donna said she wanted to go to Death Valley, and with little thought to anything like the weather, the rest of us were on board. I’ll spare you the gory details but the temperatures hit 120 that fateful week. Continue reading
The general line of thought for travel in these COVID-19 times is to take a road trip and try and steer clear of crowds. In other words, stay away from theme parks and instead head to our national parks and other public outdoor spaces. So that’s exactly what we did a few weeks ago – we packed the car and hit the road to the Eastern Sierras. Continue reading
As a lifelong Sierra National Forest resident, normally I wouldn’t set foot in Yosemite National Park in the summer months. There are just way too many people there for my comfort, during what I affectionately refer to as the “stupid tourist season”. But this isn’t a normal year – it’s a COVID-19 year. So with day-use passes required, and visitation capped at my favorite national park, I decided to roll the dice and pay a visit to Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove one hot August day. And here’s the skinny on how you can do the same thing for a wheelchair-accessible day trip to this secluded giant sequoia grove. Continue reading
Yosemite National Park will be opening on a limited basis on June 11, 2020; however advance reservations will be required for all day visitors. Continue reading
US National Parks are starting to open bit by bit. To that end here is the reopening schedule from the Xanterra Travel Collection – one of the largest national park concessionaires – for their lodges in and near some of the most popular national parks. All of the lodges listed below offer wheelchair-accessible rooms.
Guests are requested to wear masks or face coverings in all public areas. Continue reading