Yosemite National Park Reopens to Visitors on Friday After Wildfires

Yosemite valley view at Yosemite National Park showing mountains, river and transitioning seasonal trees

Although many West Coast residents still face the threat of evacuation and poor air quality due to recent wildfires, a slow return to normalcy has begun as Yosemite National Park reopens to visitors tomorrow, Sept. 25. This reopening comes just in time for Saturday’s National Public Lands Day, during which all national parks offer free entry.

Starting Friday at 9 a.m., guests can begin entering Yosemite National Park, though only some visitor services will be available, while others will open incrementally over the weekend. Campsites will also become available starting tomorrow, and the park will still require day-use reservations in order to visit.

Yosemite, the fifth most-visited national park in 2019, closed on Sept. 17 due to smoke impacts and hazardous air quality throughout the park. Though park officials have deemed the area safe for visitors, they will continue to work with local and federal public health experts on air quality, smoke effects, and resulting impacts on public health. The park, or portions of it, may also close intermittently due to changes in air quality.

Yosemite National Park is not the only park that shuttered during recent wildfires. In late August, the California State Parks service released a list of 34 parks that have been fully closed or partially closed “due to the ongoing wildfires burning across much of the state.” Though many of these parks have since reopened, others remain closed, including California’s oldest state park — Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

According to the Matador Network, California park officials announced in early September that Big Basin will likely stay closed for 12 months, following the destruction of the historic park headquarters, ranger station, nature museum, gatehouse, campground bathrooms, and multiple park residences. Luckily, most of the redwood trees are expected to survive, thanks to their thick bark and a chemical composition that makes them highly resistant to fires.

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