Backpackers headed to Yosemite National Park for Labor Day backpacking trips may need to plan around trail closures related to the large-scale Rim Fire burning in the Stanislaus National Forest just northwest of the park. The wildfire has burned nearly 180,000 acres in the Groveland Range District of the national forest, and the cause is under investigation.
According to officials in Yosemite, the park remains largely unaffected by the fire, which began on August 17 and is burning in brush, oaks and pines, according to Inciweb. Smoke impacts have remained low despite the fire's proximity to and growth into Yosemite. The possibility of changing conditions and the extreme growth potential and behavior of the fire have made precautions necessary in the northwestern portion of Yosemite, however.
The following closures are currently in place:
- Evergreen Road and Hetch Hetchy Road are closed, as is the backpacker's campground at Hetch Hetchy.
- All trails originating from White Wolf are closed along with the facilities at White Wolf.
- All trails are closed within the area west of May Lake Road and the May Lake Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail junction at Glen Aulin and north along the Pacific Crest Trail to Bond Pass.
- The park's northern and western boundaries south to Crane Flat Campground demarcate the area of closure. The closure continues east along Tioga Road to the May Lake Road.
- Crane Flat Road and Highway 120 west of Yosemite are closed between Buck Meadows (J132) and Crane Flat Campground. Tioga Road is also now closed between Crane Flat and Yosemite Creek. The only access to Tuolumne Meadows is via Hwy 120 from near Lee Vining (east side of the Sierra).
Popular trails in the Hetch Hetchy area, including Beehive Meadow, Vernon Lake, Jack Main Canyon, and Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River are inaccessible within the closure area. Furthermore, a campfire and cooking fire prohibition is in place for the Yosemite wilderness. Alcohol and Sierra stoves are also prohibited; portable gas or pressurized liquid fuel stoves are allowed.
Although the fire itself is directly impacting only the area around Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the trail closures impact a much larger area. Backpackers will still find plenty of excellent backpacking opportunities on trails along the Merced River Canyon. These destinations are good choices for autumn trips because water remains plentiful.
Updates to these closures are being made daily in response to changing conditions and fire behavior. Backpackers planning trips to Yosemite during the current fire incident should call (209) 372-0327 or (209) 372-0329 for the latest information about closures and the status of the fire in the park.
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