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Yosemite National Park: Fires in the Sierra Nevada Mountains Impact Travel Plans

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Aug 30, 2013 09:41 AM EDT

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Labor Day weekend has arrived and many people planned trips to places such as Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, which they will now have to keep watch on before leaving as the area is being ravaged by wildfires, according to FOX News.

For those who keep their plans, there may be an added benefit as they get to enjoy the park and its amazing views with fewer crowds than usual as many other travelers decide to cancel and stay home.

There have already been some cancellations as well as a drop in business in some of the neighboring communities as a result of the Rim Fire, which was 33 percent contained by late Thursday. The fires had already damaged more than 20,000 acres along the northern edge of the park.

However, 20 miles away, in Yosemite Valley, the sky is still clear and there isn't even a smell of smoke in the air, according to NBC.

"We've had minimal cancellations, and when we do we fill them immediately," Scott Gediman, a park spokesman, said. "The campsites are full and there are plenty of people, but because of the publicity we're slower."

There are about 3,000 cars a day that are expected to pass through the park on Labor Day weekend, short of the usual 5,000 for the same weekend. Park officials think most of the decrease will be the result of fewer day tourists.

The pattern of panic, cancellation and rebooking is a familiar pattern that occurs when there are natural disasters. However, even with the decrease, the park never has enough rooms to fill demand for the four million tourists who visit the park annually.

Lake Tahoe is also being affected by the fires, with smoke settling in the area in the alpine basin that draws outdoor adventurers, filling hotel reservations. Even though the sky had cleared by Thursday, the tourists had yet to return.

"It has dropped off drastically," Travis McCoy of Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center on the lake's south shore, said. His rental income has drastically decreased.

"We've got blue skies," Carol Chaplin, the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, said. We've got the lake back.

"It's the best it has been in a week," Chaplin continued.

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