Massive Rim Fire at Yosemite Prompts Evacuations, State of Emergency in California

by  Blane Bachelor | Aug 26, 2013
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park / chaolik/iStock

Summer, as we know, is prime national parks season – which gives us even more pause for concern around the wildfires currently weaving a path of destruction through Yosemite National Park. This weekend, a massive rim fire continued to blaze there, forcing evacuations and even a State of Emergency in California as more than 3,400 firefighters battled the fire.

Bad news all around, but for those already on the road, how are conditions affecting travel plans?

So far, the blaze has reached over 160,000 acres, though much of that is contained within the park's northwest quadrant, and large areas of camping grounds remain untouched. The park’s website states Highway 120 west of Yosemite, one of the main roads into the park (especially for those driving from San Francisco), remains closed. On the other hand, Highway 140 from Merced and Tioga Pass (which is Highway 120 from the east) and Highway 41 from the south are fully open – meaning, if you're trying to access the park from the west, you'll have to drive out of your way to reach an alternate highway and then use that highway's entrance.

Other closings, according to Yosemite's website, include: Big Oak Flat Road, Hetch Hetchy Road, and Evergreen Road (both along the park's western edge), as well as White Wolf campground, Tamarack Flat campground, Yosemite Creek campground, and Merced and Tuolumne Groves. Problematic? Yes, but not a total deal-breaker for those hoping to continue with their planned visit.

According to a National Park Service alert, most of Yosemite remains open. Of course, the more east you head, the better off you'll be. For example, the Hetch Hetchy reservoir (which, unfortunately, supplies water to millions of Bay Area residents) is in direct line of the fire; yet in all areas south and east of Tioga Road, it's business as usual.

Be sure to check the official website to see how the fire directly affects the area you planned to visit. If you have any information to add, or are a current visitor at Yosemite, please add your thoughts in the comments below!

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