A wildfire is burning at Yosemite National Park, but there is good news and bad news for visitors.
First, the good news: The park is open, roads remain open, and only a few trails are closed.
The bad news, however, is that smoke from the wildfire has pushed air quality levels in the popular Yosemite Valley to an “unhealthy” level that can be troubling for people with heart or lung diseases, older adults, children, and teens.
“Expect smoky conditions in Yosemite Valley,” the National Park Service (NPS) cautions. “Expect periods of poor air quality and visibility at times, mainly in the Yosemite Valley area and mainly from evening to morning, due to the Pika Fire.”
About The Pika Fire
The wildfire known as the Pika Fire was ignited by lightning in Yosemite National Park on June 29, the NPS explains. Since then, it has grown to cover 818 acres as of Monday, with zero containment, according to InciWeb, an interagency all-risk incident information management system.
Yosemite fire crews are using what’s known as a “confine and contain” strategy using natural barriers and trails, as well as controlled fires to secure and strengthen those natural fire barriers, the NPS explains.
“A confine and contain strategy under favorable conditions allows fire to move naturally across the landscape, providing ecological benefits to plants and wildlife, while also meeting protection objectives to minimize risk to people and infrastructure,” the NPS continues.
The Fire’s Impact On Visitors
The Pika Fire is burning northwest of North Dome, a steep granite formation known for its commanding views of Yosemite’s famed Half Dome.
As with any wildfire, there is always a threat of falling limbs and fire-damaged trees, burning logs and stump holes, smoke conditions that may cause respiratory problems, poor visibility due to smoke, and hot ash. In this case, it is the smoke conditions that pose the most risk to visitors.
However, to keep visitors safe while crews work to manage the wildfire, park management has closed the North Dome Trail, which leads to the top of the granite dome. The trail that travels east of Indian Creek is also closed, as are trails on Indian Ridge.
You can see which trails and sections of trails are closed on the Pika Fire Safety Closure #2 map.
Meanwhile, although the air quality in Yosemite Village and Turtleback Dome has improved slightly since last weekend, visitors should still expect smoky conditions with areas of low visibility. Keep in mind that people who are sensitive to poor air quality will most likely be affected.
You can monitor the air quality in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Tuolumne Meadows at Yosemite’s Current Air Quality and Smoke Monitoring webpage.
While you’re thinking about the park, be sure to read all our Yosemite National Park content, including: