Yosemite is open again, more campsites available
Yosemite National Park will reopen Friday, with scores of campsites available that have been closed all summer.
The move, announced Wednesday, follows a Sept. 17 closure because of unhealthy air quality.
The park reopens at 9 a.m. Friday. Park spokesman Scott Gediman said campsites in Yosemite Valley’s Upper Pines, North Pinse and Lower Pines campgrounds will be available for campers beginning Friday night. The campgrounds can be booked at recreation.gov.
Through the summer, Yosemite has tried to reduce COVID-19 risks by making available only about half of the 240 campsites in Yosemite Valley’s Upper Pines area, about 120 spots. Virtually all of the park’s other campsites have been closed for months, and longstanding reservations were cancelled as a result.
Beginning Friday, most of of the 90 campsites in North Pines and 90 more in Lower Pines will now also be available to reserve in addition to Upper Pines, Gediman said. He said only “a small number” of sites in North Pines and Lower Pines would remain closed.
“We’ve seen improved air quality over the last few days,” said Gediman. He warned, however, that as air quality fluctuates in days and weeks ahead, “there may be a need for intermittent closures.”
The park will still require day-use reservations to enter whether visitors are spending the night or not, a measure adopted earlier this year to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection through crowding.
Meanwhile, the nearby Creek fire continues to burn. As of Wednesday morning, it has covered more than 289,000 acres, blackening large portions of Sierra National Forest and drawing within 14 miles of Mammoth Lakes. Authorities said the fire was 42% contained.
Nearby, along the Sierra foothills, Kings Canyon National Park was expected to reopen Wednesday but Sequoia National Park remained closed.
On the coast, Highway 1 reopened Monday after a closure that lasted more than a month as firefighters battled the Dolan fire near Big Sur in Monterey County.
Much public land remains closed because of fire threats or air befouled by smoke. Several of Monterey County’s state parks are still shut, including Julia Pfeiffer Burns, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln, Pfeiffer Big Sur and Point Sur State Historic Park.
As of Wednesday morning, the Dolan fire had blackened more than 128,000 acres and was 44% contained. More than 500 firefighters are working on the blaze, whose origins are unknown.
In Southern California, all of the region’s national forests are closed, including Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests.
The Forest Service has a regional order in place that closes those forests through Thursday. It’s still “a day-to-day decision” on when to reopen, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jonathan Groveman.
As of Wednesday noon, the Bobcat fire in Angeles National Forest had claimed more than 113,000 acres and was 38% contained.
Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks remain open.
Farther north, these national forests are open to varying degrees: Eldorado, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta-Trinity, Stanislaus and Tahoe. These forests are closed through at least Thursday: Inyo, Sequoia, Sierra, Klamath and Six Rivers.
The blaze, which started Sept. 6, has now chewed through more than 72,000 acres and is rapidly continuing its northeastern expansion.
Authorities urged would-be visitors to check individual forest web pages for specific restrictions; the Cal Fire website for updates on the blazes in progress; and AirNow or a comparable source for air-quality readings.
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