More than 6,800 wildfires have already burned 1.7 million acres of national forests in California this wildfire season, according to the U.S. Forest Service, as firefighters continue to battle devastating blazes throughout the state, including the Caldor Fire that is threatening South Lake Tahoe.
Consequently, the Forest Service this week took the drastic step of temporarily closing all of the national forests in California through September 17, 2021—a period that includes Labor Day weekend, when many travelers often head to these beautiful outdoor recreational areas for vacations, camping, and hiking.
“We do not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety,” California regional forester Jennifer Eberlien said in a statement. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”
So, which national forests are affected? Here’s the full list of national forests that are currently closed in California:
Angeles National Forest Cleveland National Forest Eldorado National Forest (under a separate closure order through September 30) Inyo National Forest Klamath National Forest Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Lassen National Forest Los Padres National Forest Mendocino National Forest Modoc National Forest Plumas National Forest San Bernardino National Forest Sequoia National Forest Shasta-Trinity National Forest Sierra National Forest Six Rivers National Forest Stanislaus National Forest Tahoe National Forest
The order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is located predominantly in Nevada with a small portion of the forest in eastern California, but Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest has closed numerous roads, trails, and campgrounds as of September 1 due to the Caldor Fire.
Of the nine national parks in California, including Yosemite, only Lassen Volcanic National Park is closed (and has been since late July) due to the Dixie Fire, which remains active. No state parks in California have thus far been closed due to fires.
By temporarily reducing the number of people in the national forests, the Forest Service is hoping to reduce the likelihood of visitors getting trapped by blazes—and to decrease the potential for new fires.
While wildfires are certainly not new to California, what is different this season is “a record level [of] fuel and fire conditions, fire behavior that is beyond the norm . . . and no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall,” the Forest Service stated.
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Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.