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CNN Today

Tourists Returning to Yosemite National Park

Aired May 30, 2000 - 2:23 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yosemite National Park is trying to recover from a number of events that took some of the luster off the natural wonder. And if this first big holiday weekend of the summer was any indication, things are turning around for Yosemite, nestled high in the California Sierra Nevada.

Here's reporter Amber Lee from CNN station KTVU.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMBER LEE, KTVU REPORTER (voice-over): The natural wonders of Yosemite beckoned visitors year round. But in recent years problems have hit the park: fires, floods and road closures. Then came the killings, last year, of three tourists and a park naturalist. Park officials say the number of visitors dropped way off, down about half a million a year from the usual four million. But this Memorial Day holiday weekend saw a healthy turnout. Despite the park's recent troubles, visitors say Yosemite has not lost its luster as the crown jewel of the national park system.

NAOMI CHATTIN, GREENBRAE, CALIFORNIA: We went to the Grand Canyon last year, I've been to Glacier and numerous other national parks, this is my favorite.

ALLEN CHATTIN, GREENBRAE, CALIFORNIA: I always come here, easy to come here. So things happen all over no matter where you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it, I love it, I wouldn't mind trying to move up here.

LEE (on camera): Memorial Day weekend is one of three big weekends for park attendants here at Yosemite. Park officials and nearby business owners now hope to see large crowds for the 4th of July and Labor Day weekends.

LOREN FAZIO, PARK RANGER: I know they declined a little bit in years past because of some of the incidents that have happened here in the park. But visitation is slowly climbing, so we will be ready for it.

LEE (voice-over): Twenty-three miles from Yosemite's northern entrance is the small gold rush town of Groveland. Merchants say half of the town's economy relies on visitors to Yosemite. The owner of the historic Groveland Hotel says all her rooms, this weekend, were booked six weeks in advance. She said had to turn away hundreds of people.

PEGGY MOSLEY, GROVELAND HOTEL OWNER: This weekend has just been fabulous and incredible. I could have sold this place 10 times Saturday. We wound up with people even sleeping in our conference room.

LEE: And the weather cooperated this weekend as well. Visitors say their experience was unforgettable.

KIMBERLY OSTROSKY, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: It's gone way beyond my expectations in the sense of its beauty. It's just awe inspiring and it's just amazing to walk around and you can't stop looking up.

LEE: The experience was so memorable that some visitors say they will be back soon, perhaps sometime this summer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Amber Lee from KTVU, thanks for the beautiful pictures.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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