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Fire Update: Yosemite

Andrea Sachs

The California wildfires are at it again, this time licking their flames outside Yosemite, one of the most popular national parks in the country, with more than 3 million annual visitors. Many vacationers are probably wondering: Will this ruin our summer trip? Should we go to Yellowstone instead?

So far, only 15 percent of the fire has been contained. Even more worrisome, the inferno is raging in the Merced Valley, along both sides of the river that runs directly into the park. Highway 140, the main entry point on the western side, is being closed intermittently; park officials suggest using highways 120 or 41 to enter the park.

Due to threatened transmission lines, the park also lost power. Most of the services and accommodations are relying on generators, though guests still might be fumbling in the dark. Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, for example, has power in its lobby, dining area and other public spaces, but is lacking lights in its guestrooms. Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp are experiencing a similiar situation. In addition, all attractions (including hiking trails) are open, except for the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Nature Center at Happy Isles.

Officials expect the power to be restored soon. Kari Cobb, a Yosemite spokeswoman, also sees improvements in the air. Earlier in the week, one could not even see across the valley, but "today is not as smoky and hazy," she said. "You can see Half Dome."

Cobb warns visitors with respiratory problems to avoid heavy hiking, but those with healthy lungs can trek till their legs give out.

By Andrea Sachs |  July 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Andrea Sachs
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