California Fires: What Travelers Need to Know

The gateway communities around the park have started a social media campaign, using the hashtag #YosemiteNOW to show current conditions, and, said Ms. Wattles, “cool off some of the major headlines that could make people needlessly shy away from the destination.”

Carr Fire

Sixty-seven percent contained as of Wednesday, the Carr Fire near Redding in northern Shasta County covers over 207,000 acres, including sections of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. In addition to many homes, it burned Whiskeytown National Recreation Area on Whiskeytown Lake, which is now closed indefinitely. Cal Fire has not predicted a containment date.

The area’s lakes, including Shasta and Trinity Lakes, are popular outdoor destinations for camping, hiking and boating. Most of the region’s tourist attractions, including Lassen Volcanic National Park, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, home to 129-foot Burney Falls, and Castle Crags State Park, with 6,000-foot granite spires, remain open.

Some areas closer to the fire, including Mount Shasta and Redding, are experiencing unhealthy smoke levels.

“We’re limiting the physical activity we do outside,” said Laurie Baker, the chief executive of Visit Redding and the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, the tourism group covering eight of California’s northeastern counties. “Where we might go on a four-hour hike, we’re waiting, most of us, until September. By then the air quality should be fine.”

Ranch Fire

The largest fire in state history, according to Cal Fire, the Ranch fire in northern Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties covers over 314,000 acres, most of it in Mendocino National Forest. It is 64 percent contained and still threatening Lake Pillsbury, where residents have been evacuated. Together with the smaller, fully contained River Fire nearby, it is also known as the Mendocino Complex fire, now nearly 364,000 acres.

Despite that name, much of the fire is in Lake County, home to Clear Lake, a popular bass-fishing destination and the largest natural lake in the state (the larger Lake Tahoe is shared with Nevada). About 110 miles northeast of San Francisco, it is a popular destination for boating, fishing and an emerging wine industry distinguished by sauvignon blanc.

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