National parks are the pride of America, so as the Yosemite Rim Fire continues to devour acres of Yosemite National Park's western region (160,000 acres in total, as of Tuesday, Aug. 27), the nation understandably watches in fear.
Area consumed by the Yosemite Rim Fire, as of Tuesday, Aug. 27, as seen from NASA satellite. Photo: NASA
Click through the tabs on the left side of the map to explore various perspectives about the fire. Map: ESRI
Now one of the 20 largest fires in California's history, the Yosemite wildfire has reached the size of Chicago and threatens 4,500 human structures, including a summer camp. The flames have forced the evacuations of hundreds of homes and, to the concern of San Francisco's residents, creep closer and closer to the Hetch Hetchy water reservoir.
The Yosemite wildfire threatens not only the beauty of one of our nation's most treasured and highly visited national parks, but also the pristine Yosemite Wilderness area. Nearly 95 percent (704,624 acres) of Yosemite National Park has been designated as protected wilderness by the 1984 Congress. At risk are groves of regal giant sequoia trees, endangered species like the California wolverine and Pacific fisher, and miles of beloved hiking trails.
The Groveland Ranger District of the Stanislaus forest, epicenter of the Yosemite wildfire, is in a dry belt that gets less rain and snowfall than land to the north. It is known for its steep canyons cloaked with highly flammable chaparral and grass.
Stanislaus National Forest before the Yosemite Rim Fire. Photo: Cuuixsilver, flicker
Stanislaus National Forest in flames on Saturday, Aug. 17. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
As the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection continues to battle and contain the Yosemite wildfire's blaze, take a moment to admire the unequaled majesty and irreplaceable features of this national park's alpine landscape.
Face of Yosemite National Park's Half Dome.
Photo: Chikku Baiju/Department of the Interior
Take a dip in Yosemite National Park's pristine Lower and Middle Young Lakes near Rugged Peak.
Photo: National Park Service
Yosemite Falls is the highest measured waterfall in North America.
Photo: Ben Ho/National Park Service
Ambitious visitors can camp out underneath the stars and Cathedral Peak at Yosemite National Park.
Photo: Dax McMillian/Department of the Interior
Massive and ancient giant sequoias live in three groves in Yosemite National Park—Mariposa, Tuolumne and Merced Groves.
Photo: col_and_tasha, flickr
Looking north from the Island Pass area of the Ansel Adams Wilderness into the Yosemite Wilderness in the southeast corner of the national park.
Photo: Steve Dunleavy, flickr
The rising sun peeking out from behind Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Photo: Greg Chancey/Department of the Interior
There are few views as picturesque as beautiful Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.
Photo: Gabriela Cardenas/Department of the Interior
Yosemite National Park's beauty transcends seasons. Winter months are equally as striking as the months of summer.
Photo: National Park Service
Kayakers and canoers will be treated to views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls along the winding Merced River in Yosemite Valley.
Photo: Rebecca Graham/Department of the Interior
The Wilderness Society works to protect wilderness areas in national parks by partnering with diverse groups of businesses, government officials and recreational organizations, all of which understand the importance of these wild lands.
Unfortunately, as federal budgets tighten, parks are not being spared the pain of sequestration. Despite their indisputable popularity, parks are facing cuts that make it a struggle to meet the public's needs. This impact is also sure to ripple out to those communities that receive economic support from these parks.
[Pictured above] Yosemite Rim Fire time lapse on Thursday, Aug. 23. GIF: maxmax655, YouTube