Wildfires raging in parts of the parched West have caused road, campground and trail closures in some national parks and forced evacuations of tourists and park employees, including...
Wildfires raging in parts of the parched West have caused road, campground and trail closures in some national parks and forced evacuations of tourists and park employees, including in and around Glacier National Park in Montana in recent days.
Fires also are burning in national forests, including in Central Washington, where the massive Farewell Creek fire north of Winthrop had consumed more than 70,000 acres (as of midweek when the Travel section was printed).
Vacationers can check on the impacts of fires from road closures to smoke using the contact information below.
Anyone going into the woods hiking, camping, picnicking or riding off-road vehicles throughout most of the West should be extremely careful because of high fire danger. Also be aware that many areas have banned campfires. And if you’re smoking while driving, don’t throw cigarette butts out the window since that could start roadside fires.
General fire information: The National Interagency Fire Center has state-by-state lists of wildfires plus links to other Web sites: www.nifc.gov/ or 208-387-5050.
Farewell Creek fire, Washington: The National Forest Service and other agencies provide details on the fire, part of what’s called the Fawn Peak complex of wildfires (www.pnw3.com/fawnpeak/). It describes what areas of the Pasayten Wilderness and the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests are closed to the public because of the fire, including roads and hiking trails.
A towering plume of smoke can be seen from the popular tourist town of Winthrop in the Methow Valley; the fire is burning about 13 miles northwest of Winthrop in rugged forestland. Smoke sometimes drifts through the Methow Valley, although winds have been dispersing it.
For a link to a Web cam showing live conditions in the Methow Valley, see www.mvsta.com/ (click on camera).
Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest, Montana: Three fires were burning in Glacier National Park and the adjacent Flathead National Forest last week, keeping the west side of the park closed.
Tourist and residential areas around the communities of West Glacier and Apgar Village, including park headquarters, were evacuated because of the Robert fire which, with the other fires, has scorched more than 50,000 acres in and around the park.
The entrance to the park at West Glacier was closed as of midweek, as were many campgrounds and trails and part of the Going to the Sun road, a popular high-country drive in the park.
However, it was still possible to enter the million-acre park from the east, and services were open at the Many Glacier and Swift Current visitor areas on the park’s east side.
For Glacier National Park information, contact the National Park Service: www.nps.gov/glac or phone 406-888-7800.
A new Glacier and Flathead National Forest fire information Web site has been established: www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/ciimt5/ac/
For Web cams showing five views of Glacier scenery and smoke see www.nps.gov/glac/whatsnew.htm
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: What’s called the Balcony House fire continued to burn in the park in southwest Colorado, where ancient Indian cliff dwellings are tucked into canyons.
However, the park is open (after a five-day closure in mid-July); its Morefield campground reopened last week; and archaeological sites were not threatened. www.nps.gov/meve or 970-529-4465.
Idaho fires: Fire danger in Idaho is high because of extremely hot and dry conditions. Wildfires are scattered through the state, and two firefighters died in late July.
For updates on wildfires: www.id.blm.gov/boisedispatch/
Canadian Rockies: A major wildfire in southwest Alberta, called the Lost Creek fire, which is near Crowsnest Pass, forced the evacuation of some areas last week.
Officials also have banned campfires and closed access to more than 345,000 acres of public forestland in southern Alberta to avoid evacuations of campers and ward off any more fires. An Alberta government Web site has information: envweb.env.gov.ab.ca/env/forests/fpd/
Kristin Jackson: 206-464-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org