Despite Fire, Campers Enjoy Yosemite’s Beauty
For outdoor adventurers Steve and Sue Overby, their week-long vacation to Yosemite National Park has come with an unexpected bonus: fewer crowds along with traditionally glorious late summer weather.
“The campsite sign says full, but we’ve been here a week and you can tell that some folks have decided not to come,” says Steve of Gresham, Ore.
USA Today reported that the couple has visited this fabled park more than two dozen times, and even honeymooned here 37 years ago. Nothing, not even the raging Rim Fire, was going to keep them away.
Says Sue: “No doubt, if I just saw images of the fire on the news, I’m not sure I’d come. But we checked things out ahead of time, and knew we’d be OK.”
As Labor Day Weekend nears, Park service officials here are eager to get the word out that it’s business as usual in the famed national park, which sprawls over 750,000 acres and soars from bear-stalked meadows to 13,000-foot granite peaks with celebrated names like El Capitan and Half Dome.
Apart from slightly thinned out crowds – noticeable everywhere from half-filled trolleys that tour the valley floor to some empty benches during ranger presentations – the park so far bears little trace of the inferno that burns some 20 miles to the north.
The sky is almost devoid of haze. The smell of smoke is all but imperceptible. And the tourists who are here seem pleased not to have to elbow their way to bucolic photo-ready sights that include deer nibbling on apples and Half Dome reflected in the mirror-finish of the Merced River.
“Visitors are certainly talking about the fire, but once they see how beautiful things are here that usually stops,” says park ranger and spokesman Scott Gediman, a 17-year veteran of Yosemite. “To date, only 3 per cent of the park is on fire. While it’s certainly a serious thing and we don’t want anyone to get hurt, it’s also all part of nature and the wildness of a national park.”
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