Forest fires are increasingly becoming an issue across California, and one that sprung up this past summer, the Ferguson Fire, actually closed parts of one of California’s most popular destinations. The fire, which started around July 13th at about 8:30 pm, eventually began ripping through the Stanislaus and Sierra National Forests, inching closer and closer to Yosemite National Park. On July 24th, it was declared that parts of Yosemite would close at noon the following day, kicking off several weeks of frustrating closures across the park, especially in and around the popular Yosemite Valley. But now, after more than two weeks, the park is starting to open again. Just in time for “end-of-summer” trips, no less!
Monday morning, the Mariposa Grove (a stand of stunning sequoia trees) was re-opened and starting on Tuesday, some (but not all!) roads into the Valley will start allowing visitors again. These re-opened routes will include El Portal Road (California 140) and Big Oak Flat Road (California 120) from the west and Tioga Road (California 120) from the east.
Of course, it’ll be a while before Yosemite is back to its complete former glory, especially considering that the Ferguson Fire is still burning. In the park, facilities and some programs and services will take time to re-open or will operate on limited hours. And, of course, there’s still smoke and burned-out patches of land. More than 150 square miles of land has been burned already, and the fire is about 86% contained. Firefighters have been working tirelessly to suppress the blaze.
The list of areas that are still closed and that should be avoided include the California 41/Wawona Road route into the park, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (closed due to smoke) and the popular Glacier Point Road (which will re-open when California 41 is fully opened). The hope is that California 41 will be open within another week, but when dealing with a wildfire, it’s hard to predict. And, as always, exercise extreme caution, even when driving on opened roads. Flare-ups can happen, and this fire has already killed two firefighters and injured eleven more people.
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