The Yosemite Valley closed to visitors on 25 July, as some of the worst fires the state has ever seen burn around California. As one of the most visited national parks in the country, the closure was the first in 28 years.
Now, the National Parks Service (NPS) has announced the visitors can once again travel to the park from the El Portal Road (Highway 140), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), or the Tioga Road (Highway 120). There are still some closures for safety reasons, such as the Wawana Road (Highway 41), which will remain closed for another week due to fire-fighter operations.
Anyone who decides to visit at this point must be aware that since there are still active fires and smoke and drivers must proceed with caution. Travellers should also be aware that they might face delays and encounter limited hours and visitor services at park facilities.
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias has also reopened to the public and can be accessed through the South Entrance, with parking available in the new lot. The grove recently underwent a massive three-year restoration, only reopening to the public in June. That project was designed to protect the 500 ancient giant sequoias that grow there, and count among the largest living organism on Earth. To help keep the precious trees safe, the restorations included new forest walkways and the introduction of a shuttle service to keep cars away. Those shuttle buses are again in operation, beginning each day at 9 am.
Anyone with upcoming plans to visit Yosemite should check the road and weather conditions for their time of travel. That can be done by calling 209-372-0200, then press 1 and press 1 again. There is also information available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose and on the Yosemite National Park Facebook page.