The Buzz editors have gone fishing for the weekend. We have left our local focus today for something farther afield.
While we are technically not fishing, we are out of range of the internet for the weekend so the Buzz is coming to you via the Rush Creek Lodge in Yosemite today.
The lodge is located just outside the Big Oak Flat Entrance to the Yosemite on the northwest side of the park about 50 miles away from the Ferguson wildfire near El Portal and Mariposa. While there’s no danger of fire in the immediate area, the air is smokey, especially in the morning, so we have time to write this post and the hotel’s wifi. Usually, the smoke clears by the afternoon and the evening is quite pleasant.
An inversion that had suppressed the burning lifted yesterday around 5pm which triggered more fire growth than expected – 3700 acres, according to the US Forest Service.
“The additional burning released large amounts of smoke, much of which was lofted up and out of the Yosemite area. This morning, foothill communities will slowly see improved air quality by winds pushing from the west. By evening, smoke from firing activities will flow down the drainages, impacting many surrounding communities for several hours overnight,” predicted the US Forest Service.
Containment of the Ferguson fire remains at 29%. But conditions in Yosemite are improving and yesterday, Yosemite National Park announced Yosemite Valley will reopen to all visitors at 4:00 pm on Friday, August 3, 2018. Limited visitor services will be available inside Yosemite Valley, including campgrounds, lodging, and food service operations.
Due to continuing firefighting operations along the Wawona Road, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Wawona Road (Highway 41) from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park to Tunnel View will remain closed until further notice.
But there’s still plenty to see around the Yosemite area. The Hetch Hetchy area remains open. The Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West) to Crane Flat and Tioga Road (Highway 120 East) from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass remain open to all visitors and vehicles. All trails and campgrounds along Tioga Road, including the Tuolumne Meadows Campground remain open. All visitor services along Tioga Road, including the High Sierra Camps and visitor services near Tuolumne Meadows remain open.
Since the Ferguson Fire began on Friday, July 13, several other park facilities and roads have been closed due to fire impacts and the need to support firefighting operations. These closures include Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground, the Wawona Campground, and the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias.
If you are thinking of visiting, don’t be deterred by the fire. It’s different than the picturesque photos of green forest but it’s still a place of spectacular beauty that inspires stewardship of our national parks.