After yet another extremely dry winter, it’s no surprise that California’s High Sierra is being affected by wildfires this summer. The action was mostly in Yosemite National Park in 2013 and 2014, with the Rim Fire and Meadow Fire, the latter of which necessitated the plucking off via helicopter of stranded hikers atop Half Dome.
Unfortunately, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park is not being spared this summer. Over 1,000 personnel are trying to suppress the 17,000-acre Rough Fire, which is burning in the Middle Fork of the Kings River, just above the confluence with the larger South Fork. I sympathize with the task: the terrain here is extremely rugged, with impenetrable chaparral brush and steep topography. Oh yeah, it’s also really hot, sunny, and dry.
If you have plans to visit the High Sierra — specifically Sequoia-Kings National Park, Sierra National Forest, or Sequoia National Forest — you should be monitoring the situation. For the most recent updates, check InciWeb.
I will not be updating this page, but here is a list of current fire-related effects:
- Closure of westbound traffic on Highway 180, which accesses Cedar Grove, car campgrounds in the South Fork, and the Road’s End Permit Station (for Lewis Creek, Copper Creek, Woods Creek, and Bubbs Creek Trailheads)
- Heavy smoke in the lower Middle Fork of the Kings Canyon, including Simpson Meadow and Tehipite Valley. With a westerly wind, expect smoke in the upper watershed: Ionian Basin, LeConte Canyon, Palisades Basin, and Cartridge Creek. The John Muir Trail, Sierra High Route, and Kings Canyon High Basin Route pass through these areas. There are no trail closures yet. Check SEKI’s Trail Conditions page for closure and smoke updates.
The Rough Fire could burn for many months still. Even with the resources currently on the ground trying to put it out, the conditions are extremely favorable for the fire. I feel very fortunate to have had my High Sierra fix in early-July before there was any fire activity.