This is from the latest Utah.com National Parks Advisor e-newsletter:
Utah's Great, Smoky National Parks
Smoke is wafting in and out of the canyons in Zion National Park, the result of wildfires burning in the backcountry. The main part of the park is open and all major roads are open, but the fires have curtailed travel and recreation in backcountry areas.
Zion Narrows This has been a bad year for wildfires in Utah and around the West, and we are only about halfway through the fire season. News coverage has been widespread. Because of the interest, we are using this newsletter to provide current information on Utah fires, and how they may affect recreation around our popular national parks.
Basically, Utah parks are open for business, with closures affecting just a few areas. All major highways are open. Visitor services in the parks and in adjacent communities are open and fully functional.
The Milford Flat fire, the largest wildfire in Utah history, briefly closed Interstate 15 through central Utah a couple weeks ago, but that danger has long since subsided. No new highway closures are expected.
Zion National Park
The fires currently burning in Zion Park were started by a dry lightning storm on Sunday. Crews are battling the blazes, which are burning in extremely rugged terrain. Those fires may grow bigger during the next several days. Restrictions on backcountry travel and recreation will remain in effect until the danger is eliminated.
Zion Canyon, the most popular area of the park, is open with no restrictions. Campgrounds are open and the shuttle service is operating normally. Some smoke may drift into Zion Canyon, but it will probably be the only evidence of the fire most visitors see.
The entire Zion backcountry is closed. Trails that stay in Zion Canyon are open without restrictions. Trails that climb out of the canyon are closed in backcountry areas. You can hike into the Narrows from the bottom and proceed upstream to Orderville Gulch, but you cannot go beyond that point. Top-to-bottom hikes through the Narrows are not allowed at this time.
All technical canyon hikes in Zion have been closed because of the fires. The Lava Point Campground is closed. The North Fork Road, located just east of the park, has been closed and a mandatory evacuation order is in effect for resorts and summer homes in that area.
Watch the Zion Park website for current information.
Other Areas A small fire was reported near the junction of Hwy 12 and Hwy 89, but it was apparently extinguished quickly. Highway 12 is open, as are campgrounds and trails in that area. No other fires have been reported near our National Parks. Roads, campgrounds and trails associated with the parks are open.
Conditions are dry statewide and regulations are in effect to minimize the chance of human-caused blazes. In general, open fires are not allowed except in fire pits in developed campgrounds. Some areas may completely ban open fires, so check at visitors' centers for current fire restrictions.
The Colorado River corridor through the Moab/Arches/Canyonlands area has high fire potential and extra care needs to be taken when camping and playing in that area.
Hiking Near Moab Near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, most of the Kaibab National Forest was briefly closed to all recreational activities because of high fire danger. That closure has been lifted, effective 7/20, so visitors can again camp, hike, bike and explore the forest. Campfires are not allowed except in developed campgrounds, and smoking is restricted to vehicles, buildings and developed campgrounds.
The 24th of July is a major holiday in Utah, commemorating the arrival of the early pioneers. It is a popular time for family gatherings, camping trips and fireworks. Please remember that fireworks are always illegal in National Parks, National Forests and on other state and federal ground.
Because conditions are so dry, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has issued an emergency order discouraging the use of fireworks at this time. Some Utah communities are totally banning fireworks this year.
If you want to set off fireworks, check to make sure you comply with local regulations. Never set off fireworks near trees, brush or weeds.
Capitol Reef National Park Lightning-caused fires are a normal summer occurrence in Utah's backcountry. There will be fires every year - you can count on that - and we need to plan our activities around them. This website is updated with current information about Utah fires.
The parks are open, come on down and enjoy them. And, if you come to Zion, expect to see some mighty pretty smoky sunsets!
- Dave Webb
This monthly email newsletter is designed to provide timely information about travel and vacation opportunities in the national park country of southern Utah, northern Arizona and western Colorado. Please forward it to friends you think may be interested.