Here’s how the wildfire in Yosemite National Park could affect your visit
With the summer season in full swing, thousands of reservation holders are making their long-awaited trips to Yosemite National Park to see the iconic giant sequoias and picturesque landscapes.
But a fire that began last week has already consumed more than 2,300 acres within the park and threatens hundreds of giant sequoias while making conditions in some areas smoky and unhealthy for visitors.
If you and your family or friends have a trip planned to Yosemite, here is what you need to know about how the fire may affect your visit.
The Washburn fire was first reported Thursday in the southern portion of the Mariposa Grove, home to 500 giant sequoias that are estimated to be up to 3,000 years old.
By Monday, the fire had grown to over 2,300 acres with 25% containment.
The fire prompted the mandatory evacuation of the community of Wawona and the Wawona Hotel and campgrounds, in the park’s southernmost region. Around 1,600 residents and visitors evacuated the area as of Saturday.
The Mariposa Grove, Yosemite’s largest grove of giant sequoias, is closed, along with the Wawona area. Highway 41, also known as Wawona Road, is closed from the park’s south entrance to Henness Ridge Road.
Because of the road closure, park officials advised visitors to enter Yosemite via Highways 140 and 120, to the north.
The rest of the park, including iconic areas such as Yosemite Falls, remains open, the National Park Service said, adding that reservations are still required.
The wilderness hiking area north of Wawona is under a fire advisory.
The fire, which more than doubled in size over the weekend, was burning at the edge of Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, home to the Grizzly Giant and other sequoias.
Reservations in Wawona
Aramark, which serves as an authorized concessioner for Yosemite and operates the Wawona Hotel booking website, said reservations were being canceled through Monday, and reservation holders would be contacted.
People with reservations for the affected dates will be refunded and offered the chance to rebook for a later date, Aramark representatives said.
Rooms could still be booked online for as soon as July 18.
“Yosemite Hospitality would like to sincerely thank the firefighters and support teams for their dedicated work and efforts to suppress the Washburn fire,” Aramark officials said in an emailed statement.
The Wawona Campground is also closed, according to the official Yosemite website, but there was no information available regarding reopening or refunds.
While the park is open, visitors may encounter smoky and unhealthy conditions.
“The Washburn fire is causing smoky conditions and poor air quality throughout Yosemite,” the park said on its website. “Visitors to Yosemite should reduce or avoid physical activity outdoors.”
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