ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) --Yosemite is gearing up for some very special guests this weekend. Final preparations are being made for a visit by President Obama and his family.
This will be the 3rd time a president has landed at Castle Airport, but the first in decades. The last president to visit was Jimmy Carter in 1980 -- before that was John F. Kennedy in 1962.
The first family will be making an official stop at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico on Friday and arriving in Atwater Friday evening to visit Yosemite on Saturday.
These trips come as our national parks system turns 100 years old this summer. White House officials say the Obama Administration has made it a point to invest in our countries natural resources and our public lands to make sure everyone can experience them.
"We've got many stories that remain untold about our history -- and I gave a few examples of national monuments and historic sites that President Obama has names, or have been named, by this administration," said Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary Of Interior. "And we think those are important and the more we highlight them, the more the public will appreciate the full story of America."
The Secretary of the Interior went on to discuss the economic benefits our the national parks system. Here in California we have 27 national parks that have seen more than 38.4 million visitors -- boosting the local economy by $1.8 billion and supporting close to 26 thousand jobs.
The President is expected to arrive at around 7:15 Friday evening. His first official appearance will be Saturday morning in Yosemite Valley.
The park service is alerting weekend visitors to expect roads to be more congested with the presidential visit. But you also have to keep in mind its Fathers Day weekend, so plenty of trips are already planned to the area.
Traffic will be backed up, and some areas in the Yosemite Valley will be closed. Typically traffic is already bad when visiting Yosemite.
Action news spoke with White House officials who discussed a plan in the works to alleviate the traffic around out national parks.
"We're driving a lot of visitation through the 'Find Your Park' campaign. We've have many billions of impressions, particularly to millennials, because of the way we are advertising, with corporate sponsors like Subaru for example, and you hear it quite often, at least I do, on the radio and on the media," said Jewell. "I'd say that for our best known national parks, like Yosemite and Yellowstone, Grand Canyon for example -- they already have a lot of visitors and we are working, across the parks service, to create a good visitor experience without just having traffic jams.
The Secretary of the Interior discussed a plan to have times entry passes to our national parks. Obama will spend today and tomorrow acknowledging the 100th birthday of our National Parks system coming this summer.
The president and first family will travel to New Mexico on Friday to visit Carlsbad Caverns and arrive here in Atwater at around 7 p.m. Friday.
The president is expected to make a speech Saturday morning -- that will be his first and possibly only media event. Parks officials are asking visitors to be patient.
Stay with Action News and ABC30.com for full coverage on President Obama's visit.