Sequoia National Park reopens to visitors

This was the park's second temporary closure of the year.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sequoia National Park reopened to visitors on Thursday, after the park's second temporary closure of the year.

The pandemic caused the first closure, and the park was shut down again last month to protect visitors and resources from the SQF Complex Fire.

The park may be back open, but officials say you should be mindful of poor air quality when planning your trip. Also, be prepared for limited services because of COVID-19.

The dirty air may be a deterrent to some park visitors in the days to come.

But it wasn't going to stop college students Katie Nelson and Sarah Redden from taking a much-needed break from distance learning and doing a day hike along the Marble Falls Trail.

"As you come up it's really gray and grim," Nelson said. "So we were kind of thinking about turning away but as we got closer it looks a lot better up here and it's a lot nicer as you get higher in the mountains."

"And we figured we'd take it easy, like no crazy hikes," Redden said.

Poor air quality from area wildfires forced officials to close Kings Canyon National Park in mid-September.

That closure lasted less than a week.

RELATED: Kings Canyon National Park reopens to visitors

Sequoia National Park, meanwhile, closed for more than two weeks because of a direct threat from the SQF Complex Fire.

"So it did allow us the space to work on those mitigations and moving equipment up to the Lodgepole area and getting the buildings prepared and putting in some fire mitigation," said Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Spokesperson Sintia Kawasaki-Yee. "We don't like to close to our visitors but sometimes there are just circumstances that just call for that."

Most of Sequoia National Park is now accessible, and two campgrounds in the park-Lodgepole and Potwisha-will reopen on Saturday by reservation-only.

But some areas, like Mineral King and South Fork, are still closed because of fire concerns.

In Three Rivers, the small town just outside the park, evacuation orders have been lifted and businesses like Ol Buckaroo are starting over, again.

Owner Nicky French closed earlier this year due to COVID-19, then shifted to a take-out and outdoor dining model until September, when the fire forced her to leave her home and shut down the restaurant again.

"Just in every nook and cranny there's just big ash, soot buildup," French said. "So we had ServiceMaster come and clean it out the last few days."

French is reopening Ol Buckaroo on Thursday night.

She's staying optimistic, despite everything that's been thrown her way this year.

"Hopefully the air will get better throughout the weekend," she said. "So hopefully (business) will ramp up."
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