Aug 24, 2016

Kavalan: Taiwan's premier single malt whisky maker is worth a visit

A whisky fit for meaningful conversation or quiet contemplation.

A few months ago I traveled to Taiwan, where I learned that this island nation has in recent years been producing award-winning single malt whisky. The whisky is aged in American oak barrels that previously stored white and red wines, including sherries.

Is it good? You better believe it. As a headline in the March 23, 2015 issue of Time Magazine put it after Kavalan snagged a top World Whiskies Award, “You Won’t Believe Where the World’s Best Whiskey Comes From: Sorry, Scotland...” The article quoted contest judges' descriptions of the Kavalan spirit as “surprisingly smooth on the palate” and noted that “it’s like Bourbon infused milk chocolate.”

Thus far in 2016 alone, Kavalan Single Malt Whisky, which was established 11 years ago, has won:

  • Five gold medals at the Internatioal Spirits Challenge (ISC) for its Solist ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength, Ex-Bourbon Oak, Podium, Brandy Single Cask Strength, and Moscatel Sherry Single Cask Strength whiskies.
  • A top World Whiskies Awards for World’s Best Single Cask (Solist Amontillado Sherry Single Malt Whisky).
  • Four Double Gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (Solist Fino Sherry Cask Strength, Manzanilla Sherry Cask Strength, Moscatel Sherry Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky, and Port Cask Strength).
On the tour you'll see impressive distillery equipment.

I took a tour of Kavalan on my trip, which I recommend for whisky fans. It's a beautiful facility, you'll learn quite a lot about whisky distillation through exhibits and signage, you'll be able to taste some of the whiskies, and there is a huge store where you can shop for gifts to bring home.

The tour brings you to one of the production distilleries, where you can see what’s involved with mashing, distillation, fermentation, bottling and barrel storage. Displays provide an explanation about the entire whisky-making process, even allowing you to smell wheat in its pre-smoked and post-smoked versions.

One of many clearly-written displays that explain the distillation process at Kavalan.

A DIY Blending seminar can be booked online, in which you’ll blend one or more bottles of whisky yourself and bring them home, each branded with your name and the words “Master Blender.” The cost for each bottle is 1500 NTS, which is roughly $47.

Unlike Scotland, temperatures in Taiwan are temperate and humid, which permits a much faster cask maturation for the whiskey. In other words, the whisky doesn’t need to age nearly as long as whiskies brewed in colder climes. Fans of tradition might be tempted to say that this results in lesser quality, but with Kavalan racking up so many top awards, that's a difficult statement to justify.
Aging barrels filled with whisky.
Kavalan is Taiwan’s first maker of whisky, and the nation's only family-owned distillery. It’s located in the northeastern part of Taiwan—an area characterized by fresh Pacific Ocean breezes, with pure water drawn from the springs of the Central Mountain range and the island’s second-tallest peak, 3,886-foot Hsueshan (Snow) Mountain. 

Open daily to visitors, Kavalan charges no entrance fee. Reservations are necessary only for groups of 20 or more. One-hour tours, given throughout the day, include a short film about the company and its whisky; a walk through the mash house, still house and maturation warehouse; and a tasting of Kavalan Classic. 

By the way, Kavalan is becoming easier to find in the United States. To locate a store near you, visit this page. For more info about Kavalan, visit Kavalan Single Malt Whisky.  

And for the best glasses to enjoy single malt and other whiskies, check out Reidel's superb single-malt whisky glasses.

Aug 18, 2016

Oktoberfest in Munich 2016

Munich's 206th Oktoberfest gets underway on Saturday, September 9. Events for this you-gotta-do-it-once-in-your-life happening continue through Sunday, October 2. Learn all the details here.

Before you go, bone up on the German Beer Purity Law (because knowing how pure it is will make it go down nice 'n easy). Signed by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in 1516, it's the oldest food regulation in the world and remains the law for every beer brewed in Germany today.

Known as Reinheitsgebot, the law decreed that only pure and essential ingredients be used when making beer. Only three ingredients were allowed: barley, hops and water. Today, yeast is also recognized as a vital ingredient (back in the day, the value of yeast was not understood).

As a result of the Reinheitsgebot, German beer became renowned for its quality and consistency, a reputation it continues to hold. More than 900 breweries operate in Germany and all adhere to the purity law.

German Beer Purity Law, 1516

We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer: From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig]. If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass. Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities' confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail. Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass of the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned." Signed: Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria on April 23, 1516 in Ingolstadt.

Bring one of these books with you or download to your Kindle app:

When Traveling, Pay Attention to Umami

Traveling to far-flung parts of the world and trying out dishes that offer new tastes and sensations presents a great opportunity to explore umami. It's easier to find it in something you've never had before than in, say, a hamburger. 

The word umami comes from the Japanese umai, which means “delicious;" it's the fifth basic taste that can be sensed by specialized receptor cells on your tongue (after salty, sweet, sour, and bitter). Unlike the other four tastes, though, umami can’t be defined in a single word. This fifth taste is one of deep and full flavor, often described as meaty, rich, savory, or brothy.
It wasn’t until modern times that umami was identified as a taste. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University noted: “There is a taste which is common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, but which is not one of the four well-known tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.” In 1907, he began experiments to identify the source of this distinctive taste. He knew that it was present in the “broth” made from kombu (a type of seaweed) found in traditional Japanese cuisine. Starting with a tremendous quantity of kombu broth, he succeeded in extracting crystals of glutamic acid, an amino acid and a building block of protein. 100 grams of dried kombu contain about 1 gram of glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Professor Ikeda found that glutamate had a distinctive taste, different from sweet, sour, bitter and salty. He named this taste “umami.”

A umami food contains high levels of glutamate, which is present in plant and animal tissues. According to culinary scientists, the more umami present in the food, the more flavorful it will be. When you combine umami-rich ingredients in a recipe, you create layers of nuanced flavor. 

Among the foods containing glutamate−and, thus, umami−are beef, duck, chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, green tea, oysters, milk, beets, soy sauce, and aged cheese. As far as cocktails go, a Bloody Mary is about as umami as it gets. If you’re going alcohol-free, try a glass of V8 or tomato juice.

The Mushroom Council has created a downloadable .PDF, Umami: Discover the Taste of Nature’s Hidden Treasure, that explains the basics and offers recipes. It's a bit mushroom-oriented, but provide a lot of great info.

Aug 17, 2016

Autumn is the Best Time to Visit Wyoming's "Yellowstone Country"

Bears in Yellowstone Country

Wyoming's "Yellowstone Country" was once the playground of Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody--who, in 1896, founded the town that bears his name. Yellowstone Country is comprised of the valley east of Yellowstone National Park, as well as the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse.

This entire region was and is still heavily influenced by the vision of Colonel Cody. Today its broad streets, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and thriving western culture host about one million visitors annually.

Here are 18 solid reasons to plan a visit to the area this fall:
  1. A Stylish Event. The most prestigious local event of the year, Rendezvous Royale, is staged the third week of September. The event includes the nationally known Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale with Western-themed art, a quick-draw event, auction, Western fashion show, seminars, studio tours and a ball.  For more about the rendezvous, go online to
  2. Bears. Visitors might see them preparing for winter by foraging for nuts and other sources of nutrition so they are ready for the long den-bound winter ahead. Bears are frequently seen along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway – the road to the east entrance to Yellowstone – as well as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway which takes travelers to the northeast entrance. Bears are best viewed with binoculars or spotting scopes, and travelers should maintain at least 50 yards between themselves and any bears they see.
  3. Bull elk. Even if travelers don’t see them, they might hear them. Elk mate in the fall, and bull elk get the attention of potential mates – and warn potential competition – by emitting a distinctive bugling sound.
  4. Other wildlife. In addition to the marquee animals – bears and elk – other wildlife can be viewed preparing for winter or simply enjoying the moderate autumn days. Among them are pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and eagles.
  5. Blue-ribbon trout. While seasoned anglers will tackle trout action in the streams in and around Cody on their own, novices might want to hire a fishing guide for their first foray. Fly fishing shops also offer maps and advice. 
  6. Art. View fine Western art created by local artists at the Cody Country Art League, which shares a historic building – the original Buffalo Bill Museum – with the Cody Visitor Center. Artists with ties to the community display photography, oil and watercolor paintings, sculptures and more.
  7. Brews. Try some tasty snacks and cold unique brews at Cody's Pat O’Hara’s Brewing Company.
  8. Lodge rooms and guest ranches. Accommodations are easy to secure this time of year, and travelers have a wide array of lodging choices, from independent boutique hotels like the Chamberlin Inn, luxury hotels like the new Best Western Ivy Inn & Suites and The Cody, a high-end hotel with an emphasis on sustainability; and guest ranches along both scenic byways.
  9. Rocks to see. Rock formations along the 52-mile Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway have been dubbed by locals with names like “Old Woman and her Cabin,” “Bishop” and “Chinese Wall.”  The road travels along the north fork of the Shoshone River and traverses the Wapiti Valley through the Shoshone National Forest. Viewing the rocks – and wondering how Cody residents named them – is an inexpensive way to spend a fall afternoon.
  10. Rocks to climb. Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and other outfitters lead classes and rock-climbing expeditions throughout the Cody region. The region is well-suited to climbing, with porous rock creating drainages and rock formations that appeal to climbers of all abilities. Conditions are typically good for rock climbing through October. 
  11. Gliding. Airborne Over Cody offers a new way to see fall color – 30- to 90-minute adventures in “microlight” hang gliders.  The trips depart from the Yellowstone Regional Airport, and pilots show their passengers a perspective of Yellowstone Country that few people get to see up close.
  12. Hunting. There are several hunting seasons in the fall – for pronghorn, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Dates for each season vary, and hunters should check for details and hunting regulations here.
  13. Hiking. "East of Yellowstone: A Hiker's Guide to Cody features maps, photos and hike specifications such as length, time, difficulty, best season, access and landowner information for 20 regional hikes. The book was authored by JD Tanner and Emily Ressler-Tanner and is available at Sunlight Sports, a long-time Sheridan Avenue shop that provides locals and visitors alike with all of their outdoor adventure needs.
  14. Wm. F. Cody by Rosa Bonheur, 1889
  15. Trolley tours. The Cody Trolley Tour provides a terrific introduction to the destination. This informative one-hour tour covers 22 miles and helps orient visitors to where things are and what they might like to go back to see. The tours are offered two times a day through Sept. 26. Rates are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors, $15 for children six through 17 and free for younger children.
  16. History. The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp offers a glimpse of the lives of some 14,000 Japanese-American citizens who were interned there during World War II. Opened in August 2011, the center explores that difficult period of the country’s history with thoughtful exhibits that encourage visitors to ask the question “Could this happen today?”. The center is open year-round and admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors, and children under 12 are admitted for free. 
  17. More History. The storied life of the town’s founder, Colonel William Frederick Cody, is presented in the recently reinstalled Buffalo Bill Museum, one of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. There are also museums dedicated to firearms, fine Western Art, the Plains Indians of the region and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. For more information visit
  18. And even more history. Another popular activity is to walk the town’s main street, Sheridan Avenue, and check out the town’s many historic buildings. The Irma Hotel was built by Buffalo Bill himself and named for his daughter. Across the street, the Chamberlin Inn was built and operated by Agnes Chamberlin, an employee of Cody’s newspaper. Farther east, there is Cassie’s, once a house of ill-repute and now a restaurant and supper club with live music and Western dancing.
  19. Music. Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue continues its performances of cowboy music, poetry and comedy Monday through Saturday night through the end of September.
The Park County Travel Council website lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.

Aug 16, 2016

Romeo & Juliet performed in ancient California rancho

The Balcony Scene, Romeo & Juliet

Last Friday night I experienced Shakespeare in a completely new and wonderful way--thanks to a fantastic production by the theatrical company We Players, which uses historic or other significant sites as venues--they've done Hamlet on Alcatraz, the Oydssey on Angel Island, Macbeth at Fort Point and Ondine at Sutro Baths. 

Right now and through September 25 they're presenting Romeo & Juliet at the historic Petaluma Adobe (about an hour north of San Francisco). Beginning in the 1830s and well into the 1840s, Rancho Petaluma was the largest privately-owned adobe building in what would soon be known as California. It was also ranch headquarters for the region’s most important early historic figure, General Mariano Vallejo. Today, it’s known as Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, and a visit here is like being transported back to the great rancho era. Most of the adobe bricks are original, farm animals roam the property, authentic period furniture and equipment fill the rooms, and it’s not unusual to spot coyotes or foxes in the surrounding grasslands and oak-studded hills. 

Romeo & Juliet takes place around the grounds of the Adobe -- and what a backdrop that was! Many of the original artifacts were used; Mercutio, for example, jumped on and off an ancient hay cart while fencing. The audience moves from place to place with the actors (some people sat on the ground or on provided small folding stools, and others like me preferred to stand), and at times we became part of the play itself. For the masked ball we were provided with black lace masks, ate hors d'ouevres passed on trays by actors, and danced with abandon. At times actors stood amongst us and shouted at characters in the play--when the prince banished Romeo from Verona, for instance, 3 or 4 actors standing with us shouted "Free him! Let him go!" So we did, too. 

Juliet on her funeral bier

The play started at 6 and was over at 9 - there was no break. The world grew slowly dark around us. The final scenes -- when we walked as mourners behind Juliet's coffin, for example -- were deep dusk. Lanterns were lit for her bier. The experience was simply extraordinary.

One caution: when the sea breeze came in through the Petaluma Gap about 8 p.m. (the sea breeze that cools off Sonoma's grapes each evening, contributing to the unparalleled excellence of our local wine) -- it got really cold. Despite the fact that it's August, I should have brought heavy fleece, not a light jean jacket, and gloves. So be prepared when you come.

To learn more and purchase tickets: or visit We Players on Facebook.

Marriage of Romeo & Juliet

Oct 8, 2013

Fun Harvest Events in Sonoma County

With Harvest season well underway in Wine Country, Sonoma County is buzzing with events, grape stomps, festivals and more to celebrate the culmination of a year-long growing process. Travelers visiting the destination this fall will experience the hustle and bustle of sorting, stemming, and crushing the winegrapes, during some of the region’s most anticipated events. Below is a sampling of upcoming harvest happenings:

Field Stone Winery & Vineyards’ 3rd Annual Harvest Festival (October 19): It’s not often that a wine event is family friendly, but at this Alexander Valley property the little ones are encouraged to join. Everyone will have the chance to take a tour through the vineyards, followed by a feast of steakhouse chili and cornbread paired with wines, plus dessert of pumpkin pie. With craft sessions available for kids, there are activities available for all age-levels. Tickets are $10 per person, with kids up to age 12 free. The event takes place from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. and reservations are required. For more information, visit

Asti Tour De Vine (October 19): Visitors to Sonoma County are invited to participate in the 6th Annual Asti Tour de Vine, a 25k, 50k, 100k or 100m bicycle tour through Sonoma County’s breathtaking Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys, with proceeds going toward local community programs and projects. Local foods and beverages will be served at the four harvest themed rest stops and SAG support is provided throughout the course. After the tour there will be a bountiful gourmet luncheon, accompanied by Cellar No. 8 wines. Registration for this exclusive tour is limited. Tickets are $75.00 for adults and $35.00 for students; ages 14-17. Students must be at least 14 years of age. For more information, visit

Reserve Sonoma Valley (October 19 & 20):
Travelers are invited to experience an insider’s view of Sonoma Valley’s world-class wineries October 19-20 at the Sonoma Valley Reserve. The event provides participants exclusive access to see Sonoma Valley’s classic wineries in a new light, and to be among the first to discover rare wines and hidden gems at destinations that are seldom open to the public. There are twelve theme tours to choose from and each is inclusive of four winery destinations, chauffeured transportation and a wine country lunch. One-day tickets are $95 and two-day tickets are $150. For more information, visit

Harvest Festival at Robledo Family Winery (October 26):
The Robledo Family Winery is welcoming visitors to participate in an authentic harvest festival that will include everything from an official blessing of the grapes and olives, to live Mariachi music, an Aztec dance performance and the official release of the family’s 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Tickets are $65 per person and the event lasts from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit

A Wine & Food Affair (November 2 & 3):
Visitors are invited to participate in a weekend of wine and food in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys November 2-3. This established event, now in its 15 year, provides guests with an opportunity to discover new wines and revisit those that have endured the test of time.  Additionally, attendees will receive their own cookbook to take home along with a tasting glass. All of the contributing wineries will have a favorite winery recipe in the cookbook, which they will prepare both days for sampling. Tickets are $70 for admission for the whole weekend and $50 on Sunday. For more information, visit

For more information on Harvest season or for additional details on Sonoma County, visit

Sep 30, 2013

America's Cup: Wrapup Statistics

The 2013 America’s Cup was a revolution in the sport, bringing the racing to the fans and then delivering fantastic 50 mph boats, enthralling racing, ground-breaking television graphics and the sports comeback story of the century.

Here are the numbers behind the event:
  • 203 countries broadcast the America’s Cup on television
  • America's Cup broadcast in news bulletins globally 15,000 times
  • Over 320,000 downloads of the America’s Cup app
  • Over 1 million visitors to the official public sites in San Francisco at America’s Cup Park and America’s Cup Village. Hundreds of thousands more viewed the racing from the city front
  • Nearly 10,000 hospitality guests
  • Over 5 million unique visitors to in September and over 45-million page views during the Summer of Racing (July 1 to September 26)
  • 24.8 million views of videos on YouTube
  • Over 100 million minutes of videos viewed in the past month
  • 575 accredited media, from 32 countries
  • A 19 show America's Cup Concert Series
  • Over 25% of the population of New Zealand watched the racing broadcast live during the America’s Cup Finals

Sep 19, 2013

An America's Cup Day in San Francisco

View from the restaurant yesterday. The Emirates boat is leading.
My day yesterday was all about America's Cup, and what a day it was. Unusually hot in San Francisco, not a cloud in the sky or a whisper of fog poking through the Golden Gate (also unusual). Really stunning weather.

My friend Lee had invited me to a three-hour morning cruise aboard USA 76, the very boat used by Oracle Racing in 2003 when competing for the America's Cup (she won 21 races in the Louis Vuitton challenger series). Eighty-four feet of carbon fiber, with a mast eleven stories high and nearly 6,000 square feet of sail, USA 76 is sleek and sexy as can be.

Sailing on such a ship is a rare and exciting experience, though it may not be for everyone. This is a racing ship: no cabins below, not even a bathroom. Bags and backpacks are stored out of the way of feet, so that nobody tips over the side and disappears into the Bay. When tacking, passengers must move from one side of the boat to the other, not always easy. You'll be perching on rails (there are no seats). But if you love sailing, this adventure is great! You're welcome to assist in the sail; I got to work the grinders for a bit, though my technique was nothing like the sailors competing for America's Cup. You can book a sail on USA 76 at their website,

Anyway, we cruised out under the Golden Gate Bridge and then, heading back the other way, sailed past Pier 27, where the temporary America's Cup Village is set up. Both the Oracle and Emirates boats were docked, poised to move within minutes to the starting point near the Golden Gate Bridge, where the race was scheduled to begin at 1:15.

Our sail ended about noon. We docked back at Pier 39's Gate B and then strolled over to Players Sports Grill. Located in the back of the Pier 39 complex, it offers very good food and an unobstructed view of the Bay from its Luau Lounge (which has a beach-combing, tiki kind of feel). Light-as-air crab cakes, followed by seared Ahi tuna atop mixed greens, avocado and other goodies for me; Lee went with the Crab Louis. I opted for a glass of Buena Vista Pinot; he liked the Sterling Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent meal on all accounts.

And then the race started. All the TVs in the Luau Lounge sprang to life, and for a while we followed the race on the screen. Then the boats appeared outside the windows, to the west and heading in our direction. Player's windows were open to the air, and we could see those boats a-coming, getting closer and closer. They are massive and somewhat scary-looking with their towering, rigid sails.

Everybody in the Lounge was whooping and screaming; at one point I was leaning out the window shouting "Go, baby, go!" We had an incredible view--right before us--of the mark roundings. For a moment Oracle seemed to be ahead, but by the time the marks had been rounded and the boats headed back to the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the end point, Emirates had pulled ahead.

And stayed ahead.

Another race was scheduled for 3:15, but the wind came up and it had to be cancelled.

If Emirates wins today, the 34th America's Cup will be over. Emirates currently has 8 wins, Oracle Team USA has 1--and the first to win 9 points takes the Cup.

Two races are scheduled for today, at 1:15 and, if necessary, at 2:15.

If by some chance you're in San Francisco today, head over to America's Cup Village at Pier 27. Entry is free, and the excitement today will be palpable. Check out the lineup of mega-million-dollar yachts (one said to belong to a Google co-founder, and another is Larry Ellison's). And for the not-too-inflated price of a glass of wine, bottle of beer or split of Mumm's champagne, you can luxuriate like a pasha on a plush modern couch in an open-air lounge, watching the races and the world go by.

Happy sails to you...

Sep 17, 2013

Homefront Red: This wine honors our troops

 What a great idea this is…

Sonoma County’s Murphy-Goode Winery has introduced a new red blend, 2011 California Homefront Red, to help raise funds for military families and veterans in need. For every bottle sold, $.50 will be donated to Operation Homefront, a national non-profit providing emergency and financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.

That adds up: Murphy-Goode hopes to raise at least $300,000 for the organization. Since its founding in 2002, Operation Homefront has given more than $170 million dollars to programs that benefit military families. Such programs include Wounded Warrior Wives, food assistance, vision care and more.

As for the wine, it’s a food-friendly and fruit forward blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petit Sirah and Zinfandel aged in French and American Oak. You’ll be blown away by scrumptious black cherry and raspberry flavors with notes of toasted vanilla. Priced about $15/bottle.

If you buy it online from the winery through this coming Friday, September 20, you’ll receive 50-cent shipping rates on all Homefront wines (there’s also a Homefront Cab and a Homefront Cuvee, $55/each). Use the promo code HOMEFRONT when you check out.

Also, Murphy-Goode is sponsoring a contest to win a trip for two to December’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, TX. The contest ends October 14, 2013. Visit their Facebook Page to enter.

Sep 4, 2013

Update: Yosemite Rim Fire & Closures

Photo of Rim Fire courtesy of NASA.

If a visit to Yosemite National Park has been part of your late-summer plans, here's a current (9/3/13) update, including closure information, from Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau:

All lodges and recreational activities in Yosemite National Park remain fully open and accessible with the exception of White Wolf Lodge and some campgrounds along the Tioga Rd. corridor. Besides smoke, fire impacts are currently mostly confined to the north western corner of the park, and the fire is not currently threatening Yosemite Valley.  Visitor and employee safety is the number one priority. visitors wishing to change or cancel reservations inside Yosemite can call at 801-559-4963.

Currently, the west side of the park, including Yosemite Valley is accessible via Highway 41 through Oakhurst or Highway 140 through Mariposa. The east side of the park, including Tuolumne Meadows and the High Sierra Camps is accessible via Hwy 120 East through Lee Vining.

With the temporary closure of Hwy 120 East from Crane Flat for fire suppression activities, travelers should plan to take alternate routes to reach Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows.

Closure Information:

Temporary road closures exist on Big Oak Flat Rd./Hwy 120 West from J132, outside the park to Crane Flat within Yosemite National (Hwy 120 East toward Lee Vining remains open), Hetch Hetchy Road, and Evergreen road.

The Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 East is temporarily closed between White Wolf Lodge and the Big Oak Flat Rd./Hwy 120 West at Crane Flat.  This closure is estimated to last at least through the Labor Day weekend (Sep 2).

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, the High Sierra Camps, and Tuolumne Meadows and Porcupine Flat campgrounds all remain open and accessible from the east. See alternate routes into Yosemite.

While the fire is not anticipated to reach White Wolf, the National Park Service has evacuated the area as a precaution. White Wolf is closed, including the lodge, campground, road, and trails originating from White Wolf. For information regarding your upcoming White Wolf Lodge reservations, please call (801) 559-4884. This area is closed due to smoky conditions.

Hodgdon Meadow Campground and Hetch Hetchy Backpackers' Campground are closed.

Yosemite Creek, Tamarack Flat, and Crane Flat campgrounds are closed. Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias are closed.

Wilderness hiking trails west of the May Lake Road and May Lake Trail continuing to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Glen Aulin and then north along the PCT to Bond Pass is closed. The park's boundary serves as the closure's northern and western edge extending south to Crane Flat Campground. The closure boundary continues east along the Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) to the May Lake Road. The Tioga Road and the trails serving as the eastern boundary of the closed area (including the PCT) remain open. May Lake High Sierra Camp, Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and Porcupine Flat Campground are open.