A successful journey begins with preparation. At Base Camp, we learn new skills, reflect on past adventures, and share advice with others. The contents below have been put together to prepare you for your upcoming voyage. For new backpackers and campers, understanding these new skills and becoming familiar with your rental equipment prior to arrival will help ensure a succesful trip.
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Wildfires in California have become an annual occurrence due to hotter and drier conditions brought by climate change. Five out of ten of California's most massive fires were started in August 2020 and continue to burn. These fires do not pose an immediate risk to Yosemite National Park by flames, but the air quality has been significantly impacted by smoke.
The majority of the smoke in the park is coming from The Creek Fire. The Creek Fire started on September 4th and is burning directly south of Yosemite. On a good day, the winds will blow from the West or Northwest, and the majority of the smoke will blow away from Yosemite. In these conditions, hiking generally continues for most travelers. However, on days where the wind blows from the South, the smoke in Yosemite is bad enough that no one should be hiking.
Smoke Forecasting Resources
Forecasting the smoke is not an exact science, but with a few resources, it is possible to make an educated decision to continue your trip or not.
The first resource is Inciweb. This government website shows specific details regarding the fire and its exact location with boundaries.
Next, use Windy.com. The small arrows on the map depict wind direction, and the slider on the bottom is for the date & time. If you change the date & time, you'll notice that the winds are calmer at night. As the sun rises in the morning, the winds change and typically begin blowing NW, W, or SW.
To understand how the wind affects the smoke, AirFire is a great visual resource.
The last resource is Purple Air. Purple Air provides measurements for the current air quality index. If the sensors in Yosemite Valley are reading over 150, hiking is dangerous for all groups. With a strong Southern wind, this reading has been in the 400's. With a NorthWest wind, the index will likely drop back below 150.
It's also possible to get a visual through the Park Webcams.
If possible, delaying your trip until October or late September increases your chances of avoiding the smoke. Please message us and we can apply for new permit dates for you.
At this time, California has closed its Forest Service Lands due to fire risk and the majority of California has poor air quality due to smoke. The closest alternate destination that is free of smoke is Lake Mead/Grand Canyon area. We are working on a trip in that area. If you're interested, please let us know and we will send our latest information.
For those that would like to cancel their trip, please proceed with your cancellation through Airbnb. If your equipment has not been shipped yet, you'll receive a full refund (~7 days in advance). However, we do ask that you reimburse the permit fees that we paid. You can do so through the PayPal links below.
If you cancel with more than 7 days notice and Airbnb does not fully refund your fees after canceling, call their support phone number (1 (855) 424-7262) and let them know about the Creek Fire. Wildfires fall under their extenuating circumstances policy, and you will receive a full refund.
If you cancel with less than 7 days notice, there is a $150 charge for the shipment. Any equipment that departs our facility must be cleaned upon its return. Please proceed by canceling through Airbnb. We will refund you the remaining amount.
If you have any questions regarding your reservation, please don't hesitate to reach out.