"During high volume days (weekends, holidays, and some Fridays) during mild weather seasons (spring, early summer and fall) users will be required to pay $8.00 per vehicle for a full day reservation. Except for some holiday times, there will not be a charge Mondays through Thursdays.
You will get those reservations *before* arriving at the park via an online calendar linked to our web site. The calendar will allow you to see which days require a reservation fee and secure reservations up to 60 days in advance.
With a full day reservation, you can arrive and leave any time you please within normal operating hours (1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset). From experience, we know that the parking lot tends to thin out after about 2:30 in the afternoon even during days that experience overcrowded conditions earlier in the day. So, in order to allow people to take advantage of space left after the parking lot naturally thins out, we are prepared to issue a set number of partial day passes for $4.00 to people wishing to arrive later in the day.
We will adjust the number of passes available as we observe parking trends once the new system is up and running, trying to allow as many visitors as the parking lot can comfortably hold. However, we will also save a portion of the gravel overflow area as a buffer in case there is more overlap between early and late visitors than we expected, so that nobody with a reservation gets turned away.
The horse trailer area will be reserved in the same way as the automobile area (same prices during the same peak days), but it will have its own separate quota of reservations to make sure the full gravel horse trailer area is kept just for trailered vehicles. Equestrians will be able to reserve up to 10 parking stalls, either for a full day or for just the afternoon. The 10 spots include mainly the equestrian gravel area but also is intended for a couple of spots in the overflow area.
We have high expectations that the net result of the new system will be a happier experience for everyone who comes to the park, as well as those who live around the entrance to the park, and that the overcrowding problems will become the exception, few and far between.
We will be implementing the reservation system starting September 1st, but will be giving the public a month's time to become familiarized with using the reservation system with no fees associated. Then on October 15th, we will begin collecting fees during the peak times.
The fee/reservation system is not intended in any way to be a money-maker. In fact, the revenues expected from parking fees is expected to be under half of what it will cost to administer the program. With the popularity of this park, it is simply the most effective way to assure visitors of a parking space when they arrive and limit the traffic impact on park neighbors.
I will be placing some information on our website for Hidden Falls, and on the FB and Twitter pages that the Rangers keep current.
This reservation system is new to all of us, so we will be monitoring it closely during its break-in period in order to respond to necessary changes. Once everyone has been accustomed to using the system, we hope to add other features such as monthly or annual passes, discounts for senior citizens, etc.
Lastly, the hours for full days will be dawn to sunset, and the afternoon, partial-day pass will be 2:30 - sunset. The exact hours will change, depending on the length of day (longer hours in the summer and shorter hours in the winter) but will be posted on the reservation paperwork.
Please feel free to contact me with any further questions, and to forward the above information as well as my contact information to anyone who may be interested.
Placer County Parks Division, Senior Planner