Yosemite Valley to reopen Tuesday morning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After weeks of smoke and fire, the crown jewel of Yosemite National Park will finally reopen to tourists Tuesday morning. The Ferguson fire forced the closure of Yosemite Valley on July 25th, and even now pockets of flames are still burning inside the park off Wawona Road.

"We were due to be there today, and we made the decision not to cancel because we really wanted to see it so we've hung on as long as possible," said Despina Don-Wauchope and her family who are visiting from London.

A trip to Yosemite Valley takes persistence and hours of winding roads, but never has the journey been as trying as this summer. Don-Wauchope says the last time she came to Yosemite with her husband, wildfires were of little concern.

"We were here in May--20 years ago so it wasn't as hot either," said Don-Wauchope

There will be three ways to get into Yosemite Valley Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. Drivers can take El Portal Road, Big Oak Flat Road, or Tioga Road. The most popular route up Highway 41 and through Tunnel View is still inaccessible. For Gateway communities near the South Entrance like Oakhurst and Fish Camp, the struggle for business continues.

"Today, I'm pretty much only at 30 percent, so it's been pretty much like that," said Alvin Prasad, the manager of Oakhurst Lodge.

Hotels and lodges say their occupancy levels dropped immediately after the Ferguson Fire broke. It's taking much longer now for those tourists to return, even with new attractions like the Mariposa Grove of Giants reopening.

"A lot of people are really concerned about the smoke in the area. So we do tell them it's been dissipating," said Prasad.

By the time visitors finally return, businesses say the height of summer season will be over. They are not looking to winter when they need the weather more than ever to be in their favor.
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