SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — For months, many national parks were completely closed. In fact, the parks were so empty it caused some wildlife to behave differently, including the California Condor which was seen at the park recently.
“They hadn’t been seen landing in the parks in about 50 years so it was a really big deal," said Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, a spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings National Parks.
Kawasaki-Yee says the condors were consistently seen throughout sequoia national park until the late 1970s, but observations became increasingly rare as the population declined. Over the years the population has begun bouncing back, but no condors were seen in Sequoia, until July. And there was another sighting before that. A bear being spotted on one of the park's wildlife cameras on a trail normally only used by people.
"And he just looked like he was very intently reading this sign and it was really funny," Kawasaki-Yee said.
These types of sighting are probably less likely now that people are once again allowed to roam the parks after a months-long closure. Many national parks, including Sequoia and Kings, are now allowing visitors to enjoy the outdoors.
“We definitely have all of our trails, picnic areas, our roads are open, people are able to drive through both parks," Kawasaki-Yee said.
Kawasaki-yee says the parks also recently reopened three of their campgrounds. They are reservation-only and most of the dates for the summer have been booked already. What’s not open? Visitor centers, because they are indoors and pose concerns over virus spread. The park is however beginning to offer some services outdoors in front of visitor centers.
“We’re starting to gear that up a little bit just because we do see a need for visitor contact," Kawasaki-Yee said.
Since modifications related to the pandemic are very fluid, officials say it’s best to check out the park’s website for current conditions before heading over.