For the first time in almost thirty years, Yosemite Valley will be closed this week, due to a huge wildfire blazing towards the park from the west. Starting on Tuesday, park officials encouraged visitors to leave the area, due to road closures that will begin at noon on Wednesday. Officials say visitors can expect closures through at least Sunday, July 29, in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Mariposa Grove.
It’s unfortunate for the thousands of people visiting the park during peak summer travel, but officials say the closure is necessary due to the smoky, ash-ridden air and the threat of the fire spreading further into the valley. The Ferguson Fire has been blazing since July 13, and has scorched over 36,500 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Mariposa County west of Yosemite. The extremely high temperatures (up to 103 degrees in some areas) have caused more difficulty for the team of over 3,000 firefighters to contain the blaze.
Yosemite National Park still has Tioga Road, Tuolume Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy open, including the Big Oak Glat and Tioga Pass entrances. Check the national park’s website for alerts and updates on the current conditions.