Four months after the Carr Fire erupted in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, ultimately burning 39,000 acres of the 42,000 acre park, officials have announced new openings in previously closed areas.
The Carr Powerhouse, where the fire started and received its name, is now open to the public, just in time to take in the fall colors. As you can see, it’s a beautiful area to visit this time of year:
Additional openings include roadside pull-outs in the Whiskey Creek Area, between Highway 299 and the Whiskey Creek boat launch. Unfortunately, Mill Creek Road (to Boulder Creek Falls) and old Highway 299 (to the west trailhead of the Oak Bottom Ditch Trail) remain closed for safety. Falling trees, falling rocks, and landslides are still of high concern in the area.
All areas previously reopened will remain open. These include the visitor center (open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.), the Shasta Divide Nature Trail, East Beach, and the Whiskey Creek boat ramp and picnic area.
The openings in the park are an important stepping-stone for the eventual full reopening of the park we all know and love. Officials have now set their sights on Oak Bottom, which is one of the most popular areas in the park and one of the most devastated by the fire. The entirety of the campground, most of the boat ramps and park service buildings in Oak Bottom were burned to the ground.
NPS and CalFire crews are working on the removal of heavily damaged shrubs and knobcone pines, cutting them down and chipping the smaller items, adding stability and returning nutrients to the soil. The fire burned hundreds of the trees and shrubs at the park’s largest campground, leaving dead trees and weak soil in its wake. Removing these hazard trees for public and staff safety has been a top priority for officials.
There is still no timeline for the full reopening of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, but as we enter the winter season, we could be looking at a beautiful 2019 springtime in the park.
Here is some more information regarding the open areas in the park:
- Entrance passes are not required until further notice.
- Open areas will be day-use only, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, until further notice.
- Park rangers will sweep the open areas each day 30 minutes after sunset to ensure all park visitors are safe and clear of the area.
- Whiskeytown Lake is open to boating, swimming, fishing, and water skiing, during the day only.
- The Oak Bottom Marina remains closed to all public use until further notice.
- Other than the East Beach parking area, no stopping is allowed along John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive.
- Though John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive, Page Bar Road and Mule Town Road are open to traffic, all pull-offs, parking lots and trails located along those roads are closed.
- All other areas of the park remain closed.
- It may be necessary to reclose open areas should rain or other weather events present potential for flooding, mudslides, debris flows, or anything else that would pose a threat to safety.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine