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Sierra Vista Scenic Byway
After The Creek Fire
Blog Experiencing the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway after the Creek Fire
Steve | 06/06/2022Nature, Photography, Road Trip, Wildflowers |   

Fire. While it’s a natural occurrence, the Creek Fire was one for the record books in California history. Nearly 380,000 acres burned over the course of almost 3 months. The fire, which started on late on Friday afternoon of the 2020 Labor Day Weekend in the Big Creek drainage area between Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake, California, destroyed 853 structures and damaged an additional 64 structures in the Sierra National Forest before it was done. It was heartbreaking and burned a large portion of one of the central Sierra's premier attractions – the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. Does that mean that everything you wanted to see is gone? Absolutely not! There’s still plenty to see and do along the Byway with a chance to see how nature heals itself.

Creek Fire MapsCreek Fire Maps

There's Still Much To See And Do

Redinger Lake Panorama - Madera County San Joaquin River GorgeRedinger Lake viewed from the Redinger Lake Overlook Before we jump into the areas that were affected by fire, we want to highlight that many parts of this beautiful byway didn’t get touched by it. A great example of this is one of the premiere lakes in Madera County to fish, boat, and hike around – Redinger Lake.

A Unique Chance To See A Forest Re-Born

The great philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant.” Thousands of years later, this statement is still true even in nature. This isn’t the end but a bright beginning of a rebirth for animals, plants, and people. A chance to learn about fire. See how the landscape has transformed.

New Oak Tree Growth - After the Creek Fire - Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

New Oak tree and Lupin growth - Spring of 2021

Come With A New Set of Expectations

When you do visit, we recommend you come with a different perspective. To illustrate, many parts of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway now have views that have never been seen before. New vistas overlooking exposed granite mountains and deep valleys that were obscured by thick stands of forest. You can now more clearly see the geography and topology of the land itself and we think you'll get a better appreciation of how natures elemental forces have shaped this land for millennia. 

New life is very much on the rise.  Even though the fire was less than a couple of years ago, you can see many pockets of new vegetation springing up and the beginning of new cycle of growth and regeneration. Right under the charred and naked limbs of the old Oaks, wild flowers, brush and even some new samplings are starting to cover the ground.

Keep your eyes out for new things around the byway as well.  One to highlight currently is the new interpretive signage at the Old Mill Site in the North Fork. Technically this is before the byway starts but it is a great jumping off spot for your a byway adventure and it helps add some context to the history of the region that has shaped this part of California for generations.

The Creek Fire burned right up to the Jess Ross Cabin

The Creek Fire burned almost right up to the Jess Ross Cabin. Structure Protection crews wrapped, and help save the historic structure.

Interactive 360 aerial view of the landscape around Mile High Vista

Know - Before You Go

Covering nearly a hundred miles and reaching an elevation above 7,000 feet, a large portion of the Byway is closed in the winter - buried under a few, or in some locations, several feet of snow. There also road projects, such as bridge repair and/or replacement (some of which is a direct result of the Creek Fire) and road repairs that you should be aware of. For the latest information, we suggest visiting www.sierravistascenicbyway.com or contacting the Sierra National Forest (SNF) at the Bass Lake Ranger District Office in North Fork. You can reach them by calling (559) 877-2218 ext. 0. We also highly recommend to check the SNF website to see what, if any, Forest Orders may be in effect before you start your adventure.

Cold Springs Summit in Winter

Snow does come to the Byway, and some winters it is a lot!  Here the sign at Cold Springs Summit is pretty much buried under a few feet of snow.  Photo by Elizabeth Christie.

A Closer Visual Look Of The Current Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so a film must be worth millions. If you’re a visual type of person, be sure to watch the Outside Beyond The Lens episode to show why this segment of the Sierra is still worth visiting, even more so now than ever before:

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
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