The closed area is shown in pink (map contributed). The closed area is shown in pink (map contributed).

Wildfire burns in Banff National Park

Large part of park closed to hikers, campers

The haze of smoke hanging over Central Alberta on Sunday is from a wildfire in Banff National Park.

The park put out an information bulletin on Sunday afternoon about an area closure in Banff and Kootenay National Parks, due to wildfire in the Verdant Creek region.

The area closed to public uses is east of Highway 93S (Kootenay Parkway), from the Verdant Creek Trail to the Simpson River Trail. The closure also encompasses Haiduk Peak and includes the Whistling Valley Trail, Pharoah Creek Trail and all trails in the Egypt Lake and Healy Pass Area, including the Healy Pass Trail.

The restricted area extends to the eastern boundary of Kootenay National Park from the Simpson River, to the boundary of Banff National Park including the Simpson Pass Trail.

Visitor safety is a priority for Parks Canada and the closure was implemented to ensure visitors stay well away from wildlife risk.

The closure applies to all backcountry users, including day hikers and campers. Hikers are being turned around, and backcountry camping permits in the area will be cancelled until further notice.

Parks Canada team members are currently evacuating backcountry campsites and trails in the area and are also contacting visitors with camping reservations in closed area to advise them of the closure. Parks Canada says crews are also managing small wildfires in the Emerald Lake and Amiskwi areas of Yoho National Park, but that no areas there are closed at this time, according to the Canadian Press.

Individuals with backcountry reservations should contact 403-762-1556 or visit a Parks Canada Visitor Centre.

Updates will be posted on Kootenay and Banff National Parks’ Important Bulletins: safety/important.

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