A sign that spring weather is in full force, the National Park Service is reporting that cherry blossoms that line the Mall in Washington, DC have reached their peak. The famous DC cherry trees have bloomed as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958) and this year’s March 28 peak keeps things within normal range. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, the National Park Service is restricting who can view the stunning sight this year.
On March 1, The National Park Service predicted this year’s peak bloom period as April 2 – April 5, 2021. The peak bloom date for DC’s cherry blossoms is defined as the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open. However, a recent surge of warm temperatures helped speed up the blooming process, bringing the peak a few days earlier than it was initial forecast to occur.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the National Park Service is limiting access to view the cherry blossoms and recommends that people see them from their comfort of their homes via webcam. On March 23, the National Park Service announced that “in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, they will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park, and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Closed roads and areas will include:
- Ohio Drive SW, from Buckeye Drive SW (Washington Channel side) to Independence Avenue SW
- East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW
- West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue SW
- Tidal Basin walking trail
- Northbound I-395 ramp to Potomac Park (Exit 2)
- Southbound I-395 ramp to Potomac Park (Exit 2)
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- Tidal Basin paddle boats
- All curbside parking and parking lots within the closure
Instead of in-person visits, people can see the blossoms at full bloom on “BLOOMCAM”s set-up around the capital here: https://nationalmall.org/bloomcam
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C. designed to commemorate the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. While the festival typical draws thousands from around the world to view the stunning spring sight, the pandemic has force those celebrations to go primarily virtual this year.