Most of Yosemite Has Re-Opened, But With Lingering Smoke

Mandy Huang
By Mandy Huang
August 16, 2018Latest Clipsshare

Most of Yosemite National Park was reopened on the morning of Aug. 14, after it was forced to close by the Ferguson Fire for several weeks. Although only a small part of the park’s western end burned, the intense smoke and unhealthy air quality caused the park to shut down during its peak season starting on July 25.

Authorities urged visitors to drive with extreme caution, since firefighters were still working in the area. Officials also warned that the air quality was poor and people should avoid heavy exercise or remaining outdoors for a prolonged period of time.

NTD Photo
Most of the Yosemite National Park is re-opened on Aug. 14.(Yosemite National Park/Facebook)

On Aug. 14, visitors came in through Highway 140 down El Portal Road and still saw flames burning, but they were under mostly control.

Some trails and wilderness areas remained closed on Aug. 15, such as the Pohono Trail and Merced Grove. Snow Creek trail is also closed at night due to bear activities. Part of Highway 41 from the south, also known as Wawona Road, a key route to the park’s best know landmarks, remained closed (between Wawona and Yosemite Valley). The park’s food services were still limited.

A few lookout points closer to where firefighters were working remained off limits, with yellow tape and orange cones on site. Park visitors could smell the lingering smoke, but the view was mostly clear, according to the live camera at Yosemite Falls.

The Ferguson Fire started on July 13 and covered 96,810 acres with 87% containment by Aug. 16. There have been two fatalities, nineteen injuries, and ten structures destroyed because of the fire.

NTD Photo
Most of the Yosemite National Park is re-opened on Aug. 14.(Yosemite National Park/Facebook)

Visitors from different parts of the U.S. and other countries were happy to enter the park, enjoy the scenery, and said it’s still a must-see location that people should experience at least once in a lifetime.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced on its public website that the popular campground, Yosemite Valley, was open, but reservations are required for most camping areas, except for Camp 4 which is first-come, first served.

Outside Yosemite Valley, some campgrounds require reservations, such as Hodgdon Meadow, and Crane Flat; some are first-come, first served: Tamarack Flat, Yosemite Creek, White Wolf, and Porcupine Flat; Tuolumne Meadows is 50% reserved and 50% first-come, first-served.
Wawona are still closed until further notice, and Bridalveil Creek will remain closed for the season.

Firefighters are making steady progress, and the expected date for full containment of the Ferguson Fire is Aug. 22. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

NTD Photo
Most of the Yosemite National Park is re-opened on Aug. 14.(Yosemite National Park/Facebook)

Local businesses have been heavily affected during what’s normally their busiest time of the year. Based on park statistics, visitors have been growing steadily from more than 3.8 million in 2013, to more than 5.2 million in 2016, showing 42% growth in three years.

This year with the park closed for twenty days during peak season, and the official needs to make it known that the park is open again and gradually attract more visitors, people worry about whether some local business can make it through this year.

According to a report by NPS, in 2017, over 4.3 million visitors came to Yosemite National Park and spent nearly $458 million in communities near the park, which supported 6,666 jobs in the area and brought over $589 million to the local economy.

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