Field Notes

Yellowstone Fire Update Sept 8, 2016: All Roads in Yellowstone and Grand Teton are Open!

by JasonSep 9, 2016
The Rainbow Colors Of The Grand Prismatic Spring As Seen From The Air

Despite several managed wildfires burning throughout the Greater Yellowstone area all the roads are open and very few visitor services are being disrupted! Wildfires play an important role in the ecosystem and are an amazing thing to experience during a visit to the area during fall. Jackson Hole and most of Yellowstone are mostly smoke free and the cool weather is getting the wildlife moving, the leaves changing and the fire activity to slow down to a more manageable tempo. This is a great time to visit! Here is the most recent update on fire activity in Yellowstone National Park.

Today’s Key Points:

Today, firefighters will begin conducting burning operations on the Maple Fire east of the Madison River. The goal is to remove unburned fuel and prevent uncontrolled spread of fire toward the town of West Yellowstone for both this and future fires. Ignitions are likely to begin in the afternoon when fuels are dry enough to carry a fire. Residents and visitors should expect increased smoke and fire activity. The operation is planned to continue for a few days.
A weak cold front is expected to move through the area this afternoon, bringing a change in wind direction to the northwest. Breezy, warm weather this weekend will create conditions for increased fire activity. A community meeting for the Maple Fire will be held at the LDS church, 245 Faithful Street, West Yellowstone, MT at 7:30 pm today.
On the Buffalo Fire today, firefighters are continuing to work in the Slough Creek area to prevent the fire from crossing the Slough Creek Trail. Crews will be cutting down hazardous dead trees along the Buffalo Fork an Soldier’s trails.
Fire fighters continue to monitor the Fawn, Central, and Jasper fires. These fires have not increased in size over the last few days and continue to smolder and creep. With the planned burnout on the Maple Fire, expect noticeable smoke this afternoon in the Madison Junction area. Residual smoke is likely to drift into West Yellowstone overnight. Smoke may linger overnight in the area around Hebgen Lake and return with up valley breezes impacting West Yellowstone and Duck Creek areas tomorrow morning and Madison Junction tomorrow afternoon. Air quality will be GOOD today, with conditions deteriorating tomorrow in the Duck Creek, West Yellowstone, and Madison Junction areas. In these areas, expect conditions ranging from MODERATE to UNSAFE FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS tomorrow.

What’s Open:

*All entrances to Yellowstone National Park are open.

*Park visitor centers, concession-operated services, and businesses in surrounding communities remain open.

*The Harlequin Lake and Purple Mountain trails are open.

*Mount Holmes, Grizzly Lake, Winter Creek, and Trilobite Lake trails are now outside the closure area for the fire. However, trailheads remain closed due to road construction. Contact the Backcountry Office at 307-344-2160 for information on accessing these trails.

What’s Closed:

*The Bakers Hole area of the Madison River is closed due to the burnout operation on the Maple Fire.

*The Slough Creek Campground and surrounding area are closed due to the Buffalo Fire.

*The Mary Mountain Trail is closed due to the Central Fire.

*Visit the links below for the full list and maps of current backcountry campsite, trail, and road closures.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Are In Effect. Charcoal and wood campfires are prohibited in backcountry campsites, but are allowed in campgrounds and picnic areas. Visit the links below for additional details.

Maple Fire: 41,136 acres (no increase since yesterday) Start Date: August 8, 2016 Cause: Lightning – Location: approx. 3.29 mi NE of West Yellowstone (Intersection of US HWY 20 & 287), 3.57 mi SW of Mount Holmes Lookout, 1.78 mi from Madison Junction The east side of the fire has cooled and is no longer threatening Madison Junction or Norris. Fire crews have established control lines from the
Transfer Station north to Gneiss Creek and to the ridge top south of Campanula Creek. Engines and crews continue to patrol the fire’s edge.

Buffalo Fire: 10,787 acres (no increase since yesterday) Start Date: August 13, 2016 Cause: Lightning – Location: approximately 3 mi NE of Tower Junction and 1.6 mi S of the park boundary Firefighters are continuing to work on the east side of this fire in the Slough Creek area. The east side of the Buffalo Fire can sometimes be seen on the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout – Northeast Webcam at

Fawn Fire: 2,684 (no increase since yesterday) Start Date: August 4, 2016 Cause: Lightning – Location: W of Fawn Pass, approximately 8.5 mi W of Mammoth Hot Springs, 16 mi NE of West Yellowstone, 10 miles SW of Gardiner, and 27 mi SE of Big Sky The Fawn Fire remains unstaffed. Preparations for structure protection remain in place. The fire will continue to be monitored by air.

Central Fire: 1,350 acres (no increase since yesterday) Start Date: August 26, 2016 Cause: Lightning – Location: a remote area, approximately 7 mi W of Lake developed area and 2 mi S of Hayden Valley The Central Fire remains unstaffed. It will continue to be monitored by air. The fire continues to creep to the west and north into heavier timber. The Central Fire can sometimes be seen on the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout – South Webcam at

Jasper Fire: 0.1 acres (change from yesterday due to improved mapping) Start Date: September 4, 2016 Cause: Lightning – Location: 5.8 miles E of Tower Junction near Specimen Ridge. The Jasper Fire is burning in a small group of trees and presents no imminent threat to park facilities. It is unstaffed and will be monitored. Fire managers do not anticipate any closures since this fire is burning in a remote area.

Jason Williams
Our Expert

Jason Williams

Founder / Naturalist Guide
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