Fresno family's campfire chat with Oprah in Yosemite

EMBED </>More Videos

Campers share stories about the talk show queen and her Yosemite adventure. (KFSN)

Campers share stories about the talk show queen and her Yosemite adventure.

Last month, Oprah and her best friend Gayle - spent a weekend outdoors at Yosemite National Park.

While they were riding mules and learning how to fly fish, a Valley family had a chance to meet their famous neighbors.

Action News reporter Sontaya Rose traveled to Yosemite and talked to the Marquez family about their campfire chat with the queen of talk.

Since Oprah and Gayle pulled out of Yosemite National Park ... park rangers have been excited to see how her visit will ignite interest among a new group of people who are missing out on the national park experience.

Ranger Shelton Johnson said, "For someone of her stature, who could stay at the Ahwahnee or anywhere she wants to. To have her actually setting up a pop up trailer, sitting around the fire, roasting smores, just like so many people have done for generations, it was a very powerful thing to actually see her do that."

Shelton Johnson is the longtime park ranger who convinced Oprah to make the trip. He's been writing to her for years. He says African Americans are almost absent from national parks.

"What she is essentially saying is for me, if I can do this, you can do this as well," said Johnson. "And there's so many African Americans that for whatever reason have not considered the national park that is something that would be good for them and their families."

Already another ranger has started hearing camper comments about what's being referred to as, "the Oprah factor."

Ranger Scott Gediman adds, "I always think of it like you go to a hotel and you'll see this is where Frank Sinatra stayed or Ronald Reagan I think there's going to be some of that component as people are going to want to camp where Oprah camped."

The Marquez family of Fresno was completely surprised to have found the famous visitor during their annual visit. They expected she would be secluded and off limits.

Muggs Marquez said, "I mean she had next door neighbors, it was like another camper with just a lot of lights. They let people get close."

"There wasn't a ton of security you could just stand and be 10 yards away and watch her make dinner and popcorn," said Troy Marquez. "Yeah, she shared the popcorn with the kids."

The intimate visit was topped off when Oprah and Gayle tried fly fishing and then rode these mules. The visit was so symbolic for Johhson, he wanted everything to turn out perfectly. He was even wishing the partly cloudy skies were bluer -- until it hit him -- the setting is majestic no matter what weather pattern is passing through.

"Yosemite is Yosemite regardless of the season, regardless of the climate, regardless of the weather," said Johnson, "It has a power to it that can't be masked by clouds. It's always there revealing itself. And you could see it in Gayle and you could see it on Oprah. You could see it in their expressions. It was hitting them and they weren't standing there at tunnel view saying 'Ah, I wish it was sunny. I wish it was better weather.' It was just, 'Whoa, this is so amazing,' that was the response that they were having."

If Oprah has inspired you to "rough it", admission to Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, and all other national parks is free on Thursday, November 11th in honor of Veterans Day.
Related Topics:
travelyosemite national parkoprah winfreyyosemiteYosemite National Park
(Copyright ©2018 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.)