Lonely Planet Writer

Wildfire forces first Yosemite closure in 28 years as visitors head to next door parks

A wildfire raging near Yosemite National Park in California has forced the park to close Yosemite Valley to visitors for the first time in 28 years. 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the so-called Ferguson fire had spread to an area of 22,892 acres (92.6 sq km) and is so far only 7% contained. Image by NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

The park announced the closures on Tuesday, with officials encouraging current visitors to “get yourself out of here.” All hotels, campgrounds and visitor services in Yosemite Valley and Wawona have closed at least through Sunday 29 July, as well as the Mariposa Grove of Giant Seqouias. Vendors servicing these areas are issuing cancellations and refunds for travel reservations due to the closures. While the park itself is not within the burn area, smoke in the Valley has created low visibility and health concerns for visitors and staff. Additionally, portions of the park, including Glacier Pass are being used as staging areas for firefighting operations.

Yosemite National Park at night. Image by SUNGJIN AHN PHOTOGRAPHY/Getty Images

Disappointed travelers with Yosemite itineraries have several nearby options for detouring their travel. Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, on the North side of Yosemite, are still open. After Tuolumne, visitors can continue onto the Eastern Sierra and visit Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes and Devil’s Postpile.  Additionally, King’s Canyon and Seqouia National Parks are a few hours to the south and are unaffected by the fires. These parks are next-door to each other and offer sweeping mountain views and great hiking trails through the largest trees in the world.

Travelers who were planning on going to Yosemite from San Francisco might consider rerouting north through Muir Woods and to Redwood National Park instead. The park will continue to monitor the situation. For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again. Updated information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose.