UPDATED: Cape Royal Road at Grand Canyon National Park Closed by Wildfire

firefighter with drip torch

A fire technician with a drip torch at work on a prescribed fire in the park earlier this year. NPS photo.

The Cape Royal Road on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, which had been closed due to a wildfire earlier this week, has re-opened with pilot car escorts from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily.

Five other small fires in the area are not affecting visitor activities. Visitors in the North Rim Developed Area and at some overlooks on the South Rim may see smoke from the largest blaze, dubbed the Aspen Fire.

According to information from the park,

The Aspen Fire, located on the Walhalla Plateau east of the North Rim developed area, is now estimated at 2,123 acres and continues to burn within the 2001 Vista Fire perimeter. Much of the fire is burning in residual dead and down logs from the 2001 fire along with ponderosa pine, white fir and Mexican locust re-growth.

Five additional fires are currently being monitored and managed in Grand Canyon National Park. All are on the North Rim:

• The Angel Fire (9 acres) is now being suppressed.

• The Butte Fire (5 acres) is inactive.

• The Point Fire (2 acres) was contained last week and is in monitor status.

• The Poplar Fire (0.1 acres) is being managed for resource benefits and is smoldering in dead and down logs from the 2003 Poplar Fire.

• The Thompson Fire (1 acre) has been controlled and is in monitor status.

The current fire activity on the North Rim provides a good example of the variety of approaches that can be taken on wildland fires. What are the "resource benefits" mentioned above? They include

maintaining [the role of] fire in a fire-dependent ecosystem, reducing heavy fuel loads that can increase the risk of large fires that exhibit undesirable fire behaviors and effects, recycling of nutrients and diversification of wildlife habitat.

All other roads and facilities in the park are currently open. If you aren't familiar with the area, a map of the North Rim is available on the park's website.

Visitors planning to travel in the backcountry on the North Rim should check with the Backcountry Office, since some travel restrictions may apply on the Walhalla Plateau as firefighters continue to manage the Aspen Fire.