Every year, more than 5 million visitors flock to Yosemite National Park for its giant redwoods, stunning views, impressive hikes, and massive waterfalls. Unfortunately, for the past three weeks, smoke from the Ferguson Fire forced the park to close.
Today brings some very happy news: With the fires increasingly contained (at 83 percent containment as of press time) and the air quality steadily improving, Yosemite has officially reopened.
"We'd like to express our sincere gratitude to the firefighters and incident command teams for their great efforts in suppressing the Ferguson Fire,” says Michael Reynolds, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “We'd also like to express our gratitude and thanks to our gateway communities who tirelessly helped visitors to the area while they were being impacted by the fire. This is truly a historic and unprecedented event in park history, and we are thrilled to welcome back visitors to Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove."
Visitors looking to return to the park can do so through El Portal Road (Highway 140), Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), or Tioga Road (Highway 120). The eastbound and westbound portions of Highway 108 remain closed between Eagle Meadow Road and the top of Sonora Pass, due to the Donnell Fire. Check the National Park Service alerts for up-to-date information.
With the reopening, adventure lovers will no doubt flock back to Yosemite. The Hetch Hetchy entrance of the park has reopened, and so have Wawona basin and Mariposa Grove, the park’s largest grove of giant sequoias. As proof of the valley’s now-safe state, travelers are posting pictures with the tag #YosemiteNOW to encourage others to return to the park to experience its beauty. Want to join in on the fun? Yosemite Gateway Partners are giving out free #YosemiteNow signs in Gateway visitor centers Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
For guests looking to stay overnight, some of Yosemite’s best accommodations—including Rush Creek Lodge, Evergreen Lodge, and The Ahwahnee Hotel—still had August availability at press time. Yosemite’s reopening provides a unique opportunity to experience the national park before guests return in full force.
Visitors of the park can also enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences outside of the park as well. Discover the Madera Wine Trail, which links the historic wine regions handful of lovely tasting rooms. For a family-friendly adventure, head to Coarsegold Historic Village where antiques vendors set up shop next to badminton courts and soft serve stops. Don't miss these discoveries on the way to the park—including charming country towns, Gold Rush history, and epic high-country landscapes—on each of the four major routes to Yosemite.