Portions of the Sequoia National Park will reopen on Thursday after weeks-long closures caused by the KNP Complex fire that tore through historic groves of giant trees.
The park will reopen at 7 a.m. for day use only, from the Three Rivers Ash Mountain Entrance Station to the Hospital Rock Picnic Area, approximately six miles up the Generals Highway, and will include the Foothills Visitor Center, Tunnel Rock and some area trails, the National Park Service announced Tuesday.
The reopening comes on Veterans Day, the last fee-free day of the year for National Park sites around the nation. Officials had previously said developed areas of the Sequoia National Park would not reopen before December, since crews were still unable to fully assess the damage from the fire.
Starting Thursday, visitors can access giant sequoias in Grant Grove of Kings Canyon National Park, including the second largest tree in the world, the General Grant Tree. Kings Canyon National Park is largely open and can be accessed from the Big Stump Entrance Station on Highway 180.
Azalea Campground, Panoramic Point, Big Stump Picnic Area, Kings Canyon Visitor Center and Park Store, and market are also open. Cedar Grove is open, but will close for the season on Nov. 15.
Several Foothills trails and river access points will remain closed due to fire risk and damage. Closures include Potwisha Campground, Buckeye Flat Campground, Marble Falls Trail, Paradise Creek Trail and the Potwisha-Hospital Rock Trail.
Access to Giant Forest, Lodgepole and the General Sherman Tree will also remain closed. And, the Generals Highway from Hospital Rock through Sequoia National Park will be closed, along with the highway between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The parks will continue to work towards reopening other areas and services, the National Park Service said.
The KNP Complex fire was caused by lightning on Sept. 10 and has burned 88,307 acres. The blaze was 75% contained as of Tuesday, according to the federal InciWeb page.
“Fire recovery efforts are ongoing and include hazard tree removal along roads, buildings, and parking lots, soil stabilization along the Generals Highway, and other infrastructure and wastewater system work that is critical for a safe return of residents and visitors to the area,” the Forest Service said in a press release.
For detailed information of what is currently closed and open in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks visit www.nps.gov/seki. For current information on the KNP Complex fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7838/ .