National Park Service rangers and staff are bracing for a record number of visitors to the nearby national parks for the Fourth of July weekend as all area campgrounds are expected to fill by Friday afternoon. To help accommodate all those visitors, the NPS reopened Moraine Campground in Cedar Grove on Thursday, June 30.
The opening of Moraine added 120 more first-come, first-served sites for camping in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. Moraine Campground had been closed while park foresters were removing dead and hazardous trees, a vestige of the last four seasons of drought.
Rescue personnel are standing by, knowing that the hot afternoons will lure many to venture into dangerous cold and swift river water. Park rangers caution that these beautiful rivers might look inviting, but keep in mind that drowning is the number-one cause of death in the nearby national parks.
For those who prefer lakefront camping, 20 sites at Horse Creek Campground under the management of the US Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah are now open but they are also expected to fill by Friday. The storage at Lake Kaweah as of Thursday, June 30, was 128,347 acre feet as dam tenders are in the midst of their annual summer seasonal shrinking of the reservoir’s pool.
Stage 2 fire restrictions (extreme fire danger) are in effect for the national parks and other public lands, and fireworks are strictly prohibited in all areas. National forest visitors will also encounter crowded conditions at all designated campgrounds.
Forest visitors are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” and call ahead to the local ranger station to check on conditions. The Sequoia National Forest website at www.fs.usda,gov/sequoia is the best place to begin any search.
The Goliath Prescribed Burn, a prescribed fire that was ignited by NPS fire personnel on Saturday, June 11, is still generating some smoke output as it continues to burn and smolder in the Redwood Canyon area of Kings Canyon National Park. The 760-acre burn is also sending residual smoke down the Kaweah River’s North Fork drainage each night so there is a chance of hazy mornings and the smell of smoke in Three Rivers.
For fire information and all the latest travel updates for the local national parks log onto www.nps.gov/seki or call (559) 565-3341.
Temperatures are forecast to moderate slightly for the weekend with daytime highs expected to be hovering around 100. Nighttime lows are expected to drop into the upper 60s.
At 7,000 feet in the nearby mountains, expect lows in the upper 40s and daytime highs around 80.