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Kings Canyon National Park reopens, Yosemite plans reopening after wildfire smoke forced closures

  • September 26, 2020

Kings Canyon National Park reopened on Wednesday and Yosemite National Park is set to reopen Friday after being closed for nearly a week due to hazardous air quality caused by wildfire smoke burning in California’s Sequoia and Sierra national forests.

Both parks closed last Thursday when smoke from the sixth-largest wildfire in recorded California history created hazardous air quality. Park officials said air quality is projected to be in the moderate to unhealthy range for sensitive groups over the next few days.

Yosemite will reopen visitor services in stages throughout the weekend and portions of the park may intermittently close if smoke affects the air quality, park spokeswoman Jamie Richards said. Visitors are allowed to drive through the park in vehicles but are asked not to stop. 

Accessible roads for driving through Yosemite include the Wawona Road, the El Portal Road, and the Big Oak Flat and Tioga Roads. Limited restroom facilities are available on all road corridors.  

For detailed information about current conditions, air quality, and smoke impacts, you can visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/conditions

Smoke from the Creek Fire hangs in Yosemite National Park on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Sequoia National Park will remain closed with the Castle Fire, part of the SQF Complex, less than a mile away from the park’s eastern boundary and threatening ranger stations in the area. Sequoia closed to the public on Sept. 15 and many park employees have since evacuated the parklands neighboring communities.

Beginning Wednesday, Kings Canyon can be entered via Highway 180 out of Fresno, California. The visitor center, trails, facilities and parking areas will be open. Sunset Campground in Grant Grove will reopen on Thursday by reservations only. Grant Grove concession services including the market, gift shop, restaurant and lodge are expected to open on Friday but could be delayed. Visit www.visitsequoia.com for up-to-date information.

Air quality is projected to be in the moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups range over the next few days. Park officials will continue to assess the smoke impacts, air quality index, and fire activity throughout the region.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Joshua Yeager covers water, agriculture, parks and housing for the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @VTD_Joshy.

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