Yosemite National Park forced to shutter up for ‘longest closure in more than two decades’ after wildfires cause ‘hazardous’ smoke to blanket the air amid peak tourist season

Sunday, August 5, 2018
By Paul Martin

The unhealthy haze prompted officials to close the scenic Yosemite Valley and other areas on July 25 along with hundreds of campsites and hotels
Officials say they tentatively plan to reopen Monday after a 12-day closure but will reassess this weekend
Coming at the height of the summer season, the closure has dealt a financial blow to Yosemite, a crown jewel of the National Park System
In recent days, wildfires reached into remote areas of Yosemite, which is about 250 miles from San Francisco

DAILYMAIL.COM
4 August 2018

Yosemite National Park’s iconic cliffs are shrouded in so much smoke from nearby wildfires that the air quality is worse than anywhere in America and is rivaling Beijing.

The unhealthy haze prompted officials to close the scenic Yosemite Valley and other areas on July 25 along with hundreds of campsites and hotels in what has become the park’s longest closure in more than two decades.

Officials say they tentatively plan to reopen Monday after a 12-day closure but will reassess this weekend.

‘We are hoping to get back open on Monday but conditions have to be safe,’ said park spokesman Scott Gediman, who said the decision will be based on air quality, visibility, weather patterns and safety for firefighters who are performing protective measures known as back burning near the park’s southwestern border.

Coming at the height of the summer season, the closure has dealt a financial blow to Yosemite, a crown jewel of the National Park System, and caused upheaval for thousands of tourists whose summer trips have been abruptly canceled.

‘I’m totally gutted we can’t visit Yosemite,’ said British tourist Caroline Lansell, on a summer holiday to California with her husband and two children.

Like many, they booked nearly a year ahead of time to secure a coveted hotel room inside the park, where hotels and campsites fill up months in advance and are typically booked through October.

They fly back to England on Sunday and don’t know if or when they’ll get back to Yosemite.

‘It was going to be our first and probably only time because it’s such a long, long way to come,’ said Lansell. ‘I fancied doing the meadows, the lakes and the massive cliffs. It’s really sad. But at least we’re alive.

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