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Fee-free National Park check up

Tess Vigeland Jun 26, 2009
A couple relaxes at Yosemite National Park. Uros Ravbar

Fee-free National Park check up

Tess Vigeland Jun 26, 2009
A couple relaxes at Yosemite National Park. Uros Ravbar


Tess Vigeland: Last weekend more than 100 national parks were free to the public. We talked to rangers at two of them about how they were getting ready for the crowds. So let’s check in on how things went.

Ranger Dylan Carey is at Crater Lake in Oregon and Kari Cobb is at Yosemite. We’ll start in southern Oregon. Dylan thanks for giving us an update.

Dylan Carey: Thanks for having me back.

Vigeland: So tell us how were the crowds last weekend?

Carey: We did have a 60 percent increase from last weekend.

Vigeland: Oh my goodness. Is that unusual?

Carey: It is a big increase. However, with schools getting out, it’s to be expected. And also, it might be even more rare, because we did have a snow storm on Sunday.

Vigeland: A snow storm?

Carey: Yeah, it can snow any month of the year out here in Crater Lake.

Vigeland: Given that this was the first of the three weekends of the summer, anything you learned for the next time around.

Carey: Not a lot of people knew about it, I was surprised to hear.

Vigeland: So it must’ve been a nice surprise to get to the entry way and not have to pay anything then.

Carey: Yeah. We have some people who don’t realize there is a fee and they usually turn around. But this weekend was different, because we could tell them, “Come on in.” It was really fun to be out there and greet visitors. I was being kind of tough with them and giving them trivia questions, saying that you can get in the park for free if you answer this trivia question about the lakes.

Vigeland: Give me one of those questions, maybe I can answer it.

Carey: Well, how wide across is Crater Lake at its widest spot?

Vigeland: Oh Lordy, I don’t know that one and I should, because I’ve only been there, you know, five or six times. I should know this. What’s the answer?

Carey: It’s six miles across.

Vigeland: Six miles.

Carey: Yeah, it’s a big place here.

Vigeland: Alright, well good luck on the next one and thanks so much for talking to us these last couple of weeks.

Carey: Thanks a lot Tess.

Vigeland: So Kari Cobb in Yosemite, how’d it go for the weekend?

Kari Cobb: Well, it was very busy, which is what we expected. The traffic was actually not so bad, since all the cars were able to just come into the park. There was a nice constant flow. Been one of the first sunny, warm weekends we’ve had, so I think the timing was absolutely perfect.

Vigeland: Were you able to get out into the park at all to enjoy it?

Cobb: I was, yes. I actually went out and went on a few hikes. There was definitely some extra visitors on the trail, but everyone was happy and I actually drove a little bit and I noticed it was very easy to get to one side of the park versus the other just because the flow of traffic was so nice.

Vigeland: You mentioned last time we talked that one of the hopes of the free weekend was that folks might spend some money elsewhere, around the community in Yosemite. Did you find that visitors did buy more things or go to the restaurants like you hoped?

Cobb: Yes. Since there were more people, the restaurants were definitely full. I went to the store to buy some groceries and it was a little hard to get around the grocery store. There was a few more people. You didn’t want to go around dinner time, which unfortunately I did. It seems like a lot of families came and bought memorabilia and took lots of pictures and just enjoyed everything here.

Vigeland: Well Kari, it sounds like a very successful weekend. We really appreciate you talking to us these last couple of weeks and I understand you’re headed out to a hike as we speak. So I’ll let you go

Cobb: I am. Thank you.

Vigeland: Thanks so much for your time.

Cobb: No problem. Bye.

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