(Day by day updates to the status of the Rim Fire and conditions in Yosemite National Park follow our original report that begins immediately below. Click here for a current Webcam view of Yosemite Valley.)
The “Rim Fire” which has been burning the forests north and west of, and now into the margins of Yosemite National Park, has consumed over 150,000 acres and is only 20% contained.
Thus far, the conflagration hasn’t affected Yosemite Valley itself, or the southern regions of the park. When I read in today’s Los Angeles Times story about the park that the fire might be prompting some to cancel reservations for Labor Day weekend, I decided to find out if it indeed might be possible to snag a room for the last gasp weekend of the traditional summer vacation period.
Here’s what I found out.
Checking the online booking Website for Yosemite lodging, I discovered that if you plan on arriving on Friday, August 30 and departing on Labor Day, Monday, September 2, you’ll only find rooms at the pricey, high-end Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley, or at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, just outside of the park’s southern entrance.
But if you can delay your arrival until Labor Day, you should find much greater room availability, especially in Yosemite Valley.
In fact, I was surprised to find that there appear to be at least some rooms available in some of the park’s various lodgings on every day from September 1st through December 31, 2013. Room availability during those months seems better than in June of 2012 when I wrote about visiting Yosemite during that same time period, and the remainder of the park’s off-season.
(End of original story. Day by day updates on the Rim Fire and conditions within Yosemite follow.)
[Update, August 28, 2013. Highway 120 east from Crane Flat to Yosemite Creek will be closed at noon today, preventing visitors inside Yosemite from reaching Tuolumne Meadows from inside the park, and requiring visitors headed toward Yosemite Valley to reach it only via Highway 140 from Merced or Highway 41 from Fresno. Visitors can continue to reach Tuolume Meadows from Lee Vining, at the foot of the east side of the Sierra Nevada range, outside of the park. Click here for further information on closures within Yosemite National Park due to the Rim Fire. Yesterday, Travel Weekly posted this story on its Website about the impact of the fire on Yosemite tourism. ]
[Update, August 29, 2013. The Rim Fire has now reportedly burned approximately 193,000 acres, but only grew by 270 acres in the last day and is 30 percent contained. The National Park Service has noted a decline in end-of-summer visitors, although the fire has not affected Yosemite Valley or the southern areas of the park.]
[Update, August 30, 2013. While the Rim Fire has now burned nearly 200,000 acres near and in Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Conservancy Webcams show clear sunny skies over Yosemite Valley, making it a great day to be there. This story from The New York Times discusses how technology, including the following YouTube video produced by Mother Jones, is allowing the fire's progress to be tracked.]
[Update, September 1, 2013. The National Park Service says: "Most of Yosemite National Park is open. Winds in the Yosemite area have been variable, causing periods of smoky conditions throughout much of Yosemite. When conditions are smoky, visitors to the area should avoid extended strenuous physical activities outdoors. Additionally, those that are sensitive to air quality impacts should avoid going outside in Yosemite."]
[Update, Labor Day, September 2, 2013. NPR reports that the Rim Fire is now 60% contained, but that full containment is not expected until September 20th. The InciWeb air quality report provides this 7-day forecast: "Southwest transport winds will dominate for the next several days. This should keep air quality in the Yosemite Valley and areas south of the fire in the good to moderate range. Areas north and northeast of the fire, including the Lake Tahoe Basin, and Washoe and Carson valleys will see higher impacts. Communities within the immediate fire area will continue to see intense morning smoke."]
[Update, September 4, 2013. The Rim Fire has burned over 237,000 acres, but is now 80% contained. The InciWeb air quality report says "Southwest winds will continue thru Friday, then another period of northwest winds is likely through the weekend and possibly into next week. Smoke production from the Rim fire is still likely by then, so the Yosemite and San Joaquin Valleys could again see air quality impacts.]
[Update, September 5, 2013. The U.S. Forest Service has determined that the Rim Fire was caused by an illegal campfire started by a hunter. The fire remains 80% contained after burning more than 237,000 acres. If you've got a hankering to stay in Yosemite Valley this coming weekend and don't as yet have a reservation, rooms are available at The Ahwahnee, Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp. You can also stay in the southern end of the park at the Wawona Hotel and Tenaya Lodge.]
[Update, September 6, 2013. Road access to Yosemite National Park has improved. Highway 120 from Groveland into the park was scheduled to re-open at noon today. However, vehicles are prohibited from stopping along that road into the park due to continued fire activity in the area. Cherry Lake Road Evergreen Road Old Yosemite Road Harden Flat and all other secondary roads and trailheads off of Highway 120 remain closed. That portion of Highway 120 know as the Tioga Road remains closed from Crane Flat to White Wolf within Yosemite National Park. Park visitors can access the Tuolumne Meadows area from SR-395 via the parks east entrance at Tioga Pass.]
[Update, September 18, 2013. Highway 120 from Groveland into Yosemite National Park, also known within the park as the Big Oak Flat Road, is open, and so is that section of the Highway 120 within the park called the Tioga Road which leads to Tioga Pass. However, all facilities and areas along the Tioga Road west of the White Wolf junction are closed, including the Tuolumne Grove, Tamarack Flat campground, and the White Wolf lodge and campground. Yosemite Creek campground is closed for the season. The Hetch Hetchy Road, including all areas and facilities along the road, is closed. For more on closures, visit the Yosemite National Park Website Rim Fire page and the InciWeb Website Rim Fire page. The Rim Fire is 84% contained; full containment is still expected by September 20, 2013. The park concessionaire's lodging reservation system shows that there is room availability in at least some of the park's lodging facilities every night from now through the end of December, 2013.]
[Update, October 8, 2013. Ironically, although road access to and through Yosemite National Park reopened on September 18, 2013, the park was closed to all visitation on October 1st due to the shutdown of all national parks and nearly every other function of the federal government. The Rim Fire is about 95% contained, with full containment anticipated on October 27, 2013.]