The Washburn Fire near the Mariposa Grove area of Yosemite National Park grew to more than 2,300 acres by Monday. First reported Thursday afternoon, it is threatening the park’s largest sequoia grove of over 500 mature giant trees, closed a major road, and caused evacuations in Wawona.
Here’s the latest on what you can expect if you have plans to visit or drive through the park.
Q: Is the park still welcoming visitors?
A: Only part of Yosemite near the Mariposa Grove at the southern tip of the park is closed because of the fire. The rest is open.
Q: What is closed?
A The Mariposa Grove, home to some 500 giant sequoia trees, was evacuated and remains closed until further notice, as well as the Wawona Campground and historic Victorian-era Wawona Hotel nearby.
Q: Are roads into Yosemite open?
A: Highway 41, the Wawona Road, is closed from the park’s South Entrance to Henness Ridge Road. The park remains accessible through highways 140 and 120, but reservations are still required between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. from May 20 through Sept. 30. The reservation system was put in place to manage summer crowds and traffic because of several renovation projects that include Glacier Point Road, which also is closed. You can check condition status online here.
Q: I had reservations at Wawona Hotel. What now?
A: Yosemite Hospitality said Monday in a statement that “reservation holders for Wawona Hotel have been contacted for impacted dates and provided refunds for their stay. They will have the ability to rebook for a later date. Updates on reopening will be shared on Travel Yosemite and Wawona social media pages.”
Aramark, the primary concessioner in Yosemite National Park, said on its website it is “in the process of contacting reservation holders for the Wawona Hotel as reservations are being cancelled through Monday, July 11.” The company’s online reservation system was still offering reservations for the Wawona Hotel for later in July at $153 for a room with a shared bath and $241 for a room with a private bath.
Q: I had Wawona Campground reservations, now what?
A: The campground, heavily booked through the summer, is closed indefinitely and the National Park Service had no immediate information about rescheduling or refunds.
Q: How bad is the smoke in the rest of the park?
A: The National Park Service advises that the Washburn Fire “is causing smoky conditions and poor air quality throughout Yosemite,” and shows recent photographs with iconic park features such as Yosemite Falls and Half Dome somewhat obscured by haze. An interactive map offered by the park service shows the air quality at Yosemite Village is currently unhealthy for children and older adults, people with heart and lung disease and pregnant women. It recommends everyone else “keep outdoor activities light and short.”
Q: I have a reservation to drive into the park, but now I don’t want to go. What should I do?
A: You can cancel your reservation online up to 24 hours in advance but the $2 fee appears to not be refundable.
Q: We have plans to visit the park in a few weeks. Will the fire be out by then?
A: Hard to say. The fire doubled in size overnight to 1,400 acres from Friday to Saturday and was at 2,340 acres midday Monday with 25% containment. The National Park Service advises that the weather will warm through Monday and that hot, dry conditions will persist through at least the end of the week.
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