Forest Fires DO change the views...
The Forest Fire season has opened up in California and blowing east.
As many of us in the West know, when the smoke arrives, your views of ALL within the weather pattern are affected by this smoke.
The Grand Canyon fills up with the white haze and your view, if any, when the fires are close or distant, are whited out. There are NO ways around this.
Denver, CO had the California Smoke blowing in the last few days, leaving the City and area under a ... haze. The normally blue skies are a haze. If the fire is close, you can actually SMELL the smoke. It is not until the wind direction changes that things do clear up. It might give you a sense of security, but find out where the fire is located.
So, if you are planning on getting some beautiful photographs of the Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Zion Park and similar natural wonders, just keep in mind that the wind direction and location of a major Forest Fire CAN affect you.
We have been caught in several Forest Fires in New Mexico. When the wind changes it will overwhelm your breathing and senses. Be conscious of WHERE the fire(s) are located and the wind direction, if possible. The fires also force large mammals to evacuate their normal habitat and "invade your space". Elk in New Mexico left the Gila National Forest and headed by the thousand into pastures to the north. Thus the large number of Elk grazing in the Apache National Forest that escaped the fire that had to eventually burn out in the wilderness areas. Our trip to Quemado, NM in the forest had large groups of cows and calf elk grazing in the area that burned several years ago on a recent visit.
Maybe the weather is hot. It is raining. Heavy winds and overcast skies. But... a forest fire affects these minor discomforts more than you can imagine.
When camped in the back country and you smell SMOKE, find a high spot and locate the source. Often the fire is not reported to the National Forest Service until someone has cell phone service. Hook up your trailer and get as far away from the source of smoke as possible, if not leaving the area and report what you have seen. Sometimes it is a lightening strike or some fool with a campfire under some trees that create these fires. Many think someone else made a report and the fire burns...
A camper's well protected campfire produces smoke that can be smelled for miles from its source. We all know the smell of smoke in the forest. It can be benign. Take no chance that is the case. Just do not be the one who sparks a fire in the forest because you wanted to sit around the campfire and do not understand how to prevent an actual major fire in the process.
When we have been camped in the Gila / Apache National Forest in New Mexico, one fire was lightening and the other by a couple guys camped among some pine that the Forest Service were aware. After the fire, they, the campers, evacuated and told no one. The Forest Service were looking for them while directing air craft to fight this beginning fire. We were camped to the South and were leaving when the Forest Service gave us instructions about a safe area to park. Rather than inhale the smoke at a "safe distance" we left the area entirely. It is not worth the risk of being trapped in a bad situation.
Be smart when it comes to Forest Fires in the western USA. It just takes a couple of fools to endanger you and your family. Just do not be one of their victims. The fools pack up and leave to avoid prosecution, if ever. They do not care about you, your family, your pets or your lives. YOU DO and always keep this in mind.