Yosemite National Park Is Closed Indefinitely. Here’s Where to Go Instead.

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Every year, millions of visitors make their way to the eastern end of California to marvel at the magnificent Yosemite National Park. But those hoping to cross off the hulking Half Dome and iconic El Capitan from their bucket list this season will have to wait a bit longer. 

The Ferguson wildfire, which continues to ravage Mariposa County, has burned more than 90,000 acres since mid-July, causing some of the most popular parts of the park to close indefinitely. Thousands of tourists have already been evacuated from the area, Conde Nast Traveler reports. “Over the past 48 hours, fire has impacted all of the roads used to access Yosemite Valley, burning dead and downed trees that can become very explosive and fall without warning,” the NPS said in a statement. This catastrophic event comes in conjunction with California’s largest wildfire in history, which is still blazing through Mendocino County -- 283,800 acres have been devastated to date.

The west side of the park, including Yosemite Valley, Wawona, Mariposa Grove, Hetch Hetchy, and Glacier Point, are off limits. However, Yosemite spans roughly 1,189 square miles, and there are still sections welcoming visitors. For example, Tioga Pass, on the east side, is open, and Tenaya Lake is still receiving kayakers and swimmers. Visitors can hike along Tioga Road to White Wolf Campground, and most of the trails and campgrounds along this route, including Tuolumne Meadows Campground, are accessible. 

Those who want to avoid Yosemite altogether -- and plan a trip when there are no restrictions -- can opt for visiting another national park in the area, like Sequoia and Kings Canyon. At both, visitors can take in the towering trees and scenic views, go hiking and mountain climbing, and enjoy other outdoorsy pursuits. Nearby El Dorado National Forest and Tahoe National Forest are also solid options for nature lovers. And in the meantime, stay up to date on the wildfire situation here.

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