Campers who have existing reservations to spend a few nights in Yosemite National Park will need to double check that their planned visits haven’t fallen victim to cancellations due to a fire raging near one of the park’s most popular camping sites.
On Monday, many reservations were canceled and refunded becauses of a partial closure of the national park due to the Washburn Fire, which continues to rage within the park’s boundaries.
Included in the closure is the popular Wawona Campground which is located along the South Fork Merced River in the southern end of the park, about 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley.
The site is popular for campers because of its close proximity to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Unfortunately, those trees are at the center of a firefight raging at Yosemite as firefighters battle to protect the ancient trees.
As of Monday evening, the fire had burned about 2,720 acres, but firefighters were finally able to gain some containment around the blaze, which currently stands around 22%.
The Mariposa Grove is currently outfitted with a sprinkler system to aid in providing moisture to the trees, and officials say so far none of the “named trees” have been damaged, including the famous 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant tree.
Still, the Mariposa Grove and much of the area surrounding the Giant Sequoias is closed off due to the fire including both the campground and Wawona Road, aka, Highway 41. The closure will be in place from July 14 through at least July 21.
The refund notices included an explanation for the closure that reads in part: “The experience and wellbeing of visitors is our top priority, and we apologize for any inconvenience with this location closure. Thank you again for your understanding.”
Despite the closure, the majority of the park and its 12 other campgrounds remain open to the public. Of those 12 remaining campground, half include reservable spots and the other half are entirely on a first-come basis. Same-day reservations are not available at any of the campgrounds.
A reservation will also be required to drive into Yosemite National Park between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Sept. 30, for those without a campground reservation.