Tourists flock to Yosemite after entrance fee waived for the holiday

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (KFSN) -- Several visitors spent their three-day weekend at Yosemite National Park Monday.

The park waived its admission fees in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Visitors say they went to see both the sights and the freshly fallen snow.

Yosemite's snowcapped mountains and rushing rivers bring people from both near and far to see its spectacular views, but with their admission fee waived for the holiday, visitors took advantage.

"Definitely more visitation today than a normal winter Monday," Lisa Cesaro with Yosemite Hospitality said.

Bernadette Carmona and her five-year-old son Julian made the short drive from Fresno to enjoy the views.

"It's beautiful out here," she exclaimed. "I love it."

Julian, however, has his sight set on snow.

"I like when I make a hole in the snow so I can throw snowballs," he said.

Visitors enjoyed the hikes and snowshoeing. Some first timers simply enjoyed the sight.

"We see it in pictures and in computer screen savers, but I don't think we could imagine how beautiful it'd be in person," Neha Arora said.

Those looking for a bigger thrill spent the day at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard area that opened on Saturday.

"There's downhill skiing there," Cesaro said. "You can do cross country skiing there."

Visitors stopping by were able to also come in from the cold and warm up at the nearby Lodging Yosemite Majestic Hotel. Inside, park goers stayed warm around a fire or enjoyed a new dining experience at the Taste of Yosemite event.

"You don't always see that snow and really powerful waterfalls," Cesaro said.

Cesaro says while the fee is waived, the attractions still have fees but that didn't stop some from making their own fun.

"We made a little sledding slope behind the cabin and sledding down," Helene Fjagesund said.

Carmona says she hopes this holiday off will be one her son remembers.

"One day he can come back and look at it with his little ones and have memories of us coming," she said.

The ice rink is still closed, crews are needing to rebuild the ice after damage from last week's storm. Regular admission will start up again Tuesday.
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