Snow and fire? Watch for both Memorial Day weekend in Idaho

Here's your Memorial Day outlook for camping in national forests.

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMay 22, 2013 

Warm dry weather this spring coupled with a lingering snowpack means recreationists will encounter both fire danger and snow as they head out this weekend in national forests.

"Most trails, roads and campgrounds will be open with the exception of those above 6,000 feet," Boise National Forest officials said.

They noted several wildfires have already occurred at lower elevations, and campfire safety needs to be a top priority this weekend.

Even if weather is cool, the fire danger still exists.

"Always use water to drown your campfire and never leave your fire unattended for any length of time," they said.

Here's the recreation report from popular national forests in Southwest Idaho:

BOISE NATIONAL FOREST

Lowman Ranger District

• All campgrounds with the exception of Deadwood Reservoir and Bull Trout will be open May 13. (Depending on conditions. Call the ranger districts for updates.)

• The Stanley/Landmark Road 579 from Idaho 21 is open to the Elk Creek Guard station.

• Park Creek Campground is open.

• The road to Grandjean is open.

• Trails that begin near the South Fork Payette River are open and snow-free at lower elevations.

CLOSED

• Bull Trout Campground road is closed and inaccessible due to snow.

• Deadwood Reservoir is closed due to snow on all access roads.

• Scott Mountain Road 555 is closed.

• The Clear Creek Road (Forest Service Road 582) is closed into Deadwood.

For more information, call 259-3361.

Emmett Ranger District

• All of the Payette River recreation sites are open.

• All campgrounds adjacent to Idaho 55 along the North Fork Payette River between Banks and Smiths Ferry will open Friday, May 24.

• Campgrounds along the Middle Fork Payette River Road 698 are open including Boiling Springs, Hardscrabble, Rattlesnake, Trail Creek and Tie Creek.

• Hot Springs Campground is open.

• The Boiling Springs and Third Fork cabins are open and reservations can be made through recreation.gov.

• Forest Service roads 671 and 698 are open with access to the Silver Creek Plunge area.

• Peace Valley and Silver Creek campgrounds are open.

• All campgrounds around Sage Hen Reservoir are open. Reservations can be made through recreation.gov. Roads to Sagehen are open from both the Ola side and the route from Smiths Ferry. RVs are advised to take the Ola route.

For more information, call 365-7000.

Mountain Home Ranger District

• The Featherville-Phifer Creek Road (county road 156) is now open from Featherville to the Middle Fork Boise River.

• The Trinity Ridge Fire area closure is still in effect. Road closures include Forest Service roads 255, 129 and 172.

• Forest visitors are advised to use caution in burned areas. Trees may fall and block roadways and become very hazardous in wind events. Rain may cause mudslides and dangerous hiking situations.

• Campgrounds between Pine and Featherville on the South Fork Boise River are anticipated to be open with full service by the Memorial weekend.

• Facilities below Anderson Ranch Dam are anticipated be open by the weekend.

• Campgrounds in the Anderson Ranch Reservoir will be open with full service.

• Facilities along Arrowrock Reservoir from the Arrowrock Boat Ramp to Troutdale Campground are open.

• Boat ramps and docks will be accessible by the weekend in Anderson Ranch and Arrowrock Reservoirs. Water levels are low in the reservoirs.

• The boat docks at Anderson Ranch Reservoir are expected to be in place by Memorial Day dependent on water levels in the reservoir as controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation. For more information, call Bureau of Reclamation at 334-9134.

• The Danskin OHV and ATV trail system is open; however trees may be blocking trails due to recent wind storms.

CLOSED

• The Trinity Mountains are not expected to be clear of snow until mid-July for recreation and camping.

• Shafer Butte Campground near Bogus Basin is not expected to be open until mid-June.

For more information, call 587-7961.

Cascade Ranger District

• Campgrounds along the west side of Cascade Lake are scheduled to open by Memorial Day weekend.

• Shoreline Campground, Picnic Point Campground and Warm Lake Campground are open.

• The Stolle Meadows Road (Forest Service Road 474) is open into the meadows, but not to Rice Peak.

• The South Fork Salmon River Road is open to Yellow Pine.

• Summit Lake Campground and Pen Basin may not be open by the weekend, due to snow levels.

• The Johnson Creek Corridor campgrounds are open.

• The road from Warm Lake to Landmark and down Johnson Creek is open.

CLOSED

• The Landmark/Stanley Road 579 to Deadwood Summit is closed due to snow. Currently there is no access to Deadwood Reservoir.

• Snowbank Mountain Road 446 is gated and seasonally closed until May 31.

• High mountain lakes and many high elevation trails above 6,000 feet are still closed due to deep snow.

For more information, call 382-7400.

Idaho City Ranger District

• Edna Creek, Whoop-um-up and Black Rock campgrounds are open.

• Campgrounds along Idaho 21 including Ten Mile, Grayback Gulch, Bad Bear and Hayfork, are all open.

• The campgrounds near Atlanta are open including Queens River, Atlanta, Power Plant and Riverside.

• The Idaho City cabins are open with the exception of Graham Cabin, and it will be open June 15.

The rental cabins and many of the Idaho City campgrounds can be reserved at recreation.gov.

For more information, call 392-6681.

CLOSED

• The road to the Graham Guard Station Cabin providing access to the Graham airstrip is washed out.

SAWTOOTH NATIONAL FOREST

Sawtooth Forest officials remind people to avoid driving or riding on muddy roads and trails to avoid damaging the running surface.

Be sure to put your campfire out when leaving your campsite for the day or for the weekend.

There are many places on the forest at the lower elevations that are very dry and have had campfires that have escaped the fire ring. Before leaving your site make sure your campfire is completely out.

Visitors to the Sawtooth National Forest are encouraged to bring their own drinking water and be prepared to haul their trash back home. Even though many of the developed campgrounds will be open, full services are not being provided at this time.

Ketchum Ranger District

• Boundary Campground is open and full services available.

• Forest officials will enforce dog leash and dog waste pickup regulations at Boundary Campground, Adams Gulch and Trail Creek Trailhead.

• Current road and trail conditions can be found at fs.usda.gov/Sawtooth.

For more information, call 622-0090.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

• All of the following campgrounds will be open with full services: Wood River Valley, North Fork, Murdock, Caribou, Wood River, Easley, Alturas Lake, Smokey Bear Campground and boat ramp (open without fee until June 1), Pettit Lake, Pettit, Redfish Lake, Sunny Gulch.

• Stanley (downriver) campgrounds, Salmon River, Casino Creek, Riverside, Mormon Bend, Upper and Lower O'Brien, Whiskey Flats and Holman are open.

• Stanley Lake and Stanley Lake Inlet campgrounds are open.

• Sheep Trail Campground is open.

• Trap Creek Campground is open.

• Elk Creek Campground is open.

• Grandjean Campground is open.

For more information, call 727-5013 or 774-3000, or go to fs.usda.gov/Sawtooth.

CLOSED

• Mt. Heyburn and Redfish Inlet campgrounds.

Fairfield Ranger District

• Roads over Couch and Wells Summits are open.

• Trails are snow covered and impassable at the higher elevations.

• Baumgartner Campground is open with fees of $10 and $20 per night. Water and dumpsters are available.

• The following campgrounds are open with fees of $6 per night: Chaparral, Abbot, Bird, Canyon, Bowns and Willow Creek.

• The following campgrounds are open with no charges: Five Points, Bear Creek Transfer Camp, Pioneer, Willow Creek Transfer Camp and Hunter Transfer Camp

For more information, call 764-3202.

Minidoka Ranger District

South Hills, Schipper, Steer Basin, Lower and Upper Penstemon, Pettit, Third Fork campgrounds are open.

• Porcupine Springs Campground is open but may be wet due to snow melt.

• Diamondfield Jack has snow piles from winter plowing, but campsites can be used.

• Father and Son and Bostettor campgrounds are open with access from Oakley.

• Campground fees will be in effect. Bring drinking water and pack out trash.

• Roads and trails are wet so users should stay on designated roads and trails to prevent damage.

• Sublett and Mill Flat campgrounds are open - no fees.

• South Heglar Pass and North Heglar Pass are open for travel.

• Black Pine Canyon and Kelsaw Canyon are open.

• Bennett Spring Campground is open.

CLOSED

• Independence Trailhead is still closed due to snow.

• Road to the top of Mt. Harrison is closed beyond the Pomerelle Ski Area.

For more information, call 678-0430.

PAYETTE NATIONAL FOREST

Snow is still present at high elevations and on north-facing slopes and is not likely to be gone for a few more weeks, Payette officials reported.

Recent rain storms have created high water in some areas and there are places where routes have been damaged by spring runoff.

Almost half of the Forest's campgrounds will be open during Memorial Day weekend.

• Valley County has plowed open Warren Wagon Road to Warren Summit.

Weiser and Council ranger districts

• Mann Creek Road is open. Fourbit Creek Road from Mill Creek Summit to the Little Weiser River is closed due to a washed-out culvert.

• Mann Creek Campground is open with water available.

• Spring Creek Campground is open with water available.

• Brownlee Campground is open with water available.

• Big Flat Campground is open with water available.

Cabin Creek Campground is open with water available. It will be closed on Tuesday, May 28 to remove hazardous trees.

• Evergreen Campground is open with water available.

• Lafferty Campground open is open with water available.

• Huckleberry Campground open is open with water available.

For more information, call 252-0100 or 549-4200.

New Meadows and McCall ranger districts

• Goose Lake Road is open to Brundage Reservoir and blocked by snow beyond that.

• Goose Creek Trail out of Last Chance Campground is open for hiking.

• Boulder Lake is accessible, but people should expect to find snow around the lake shore.

• Cold Springs Campground is open with water available.

• Last Chance Campground is open with water available.

• Kennally Creek Campground is open, but no water is available.

• Æ Chinook Campground is open, but no water is available.

For more information, call 634-0300 or 634-0400.

Krassel Ranger District and the South Fork Salmon River area

• Poverty Campground is open with water available.

• Camp Creek Campground is open, but no water is available.

• Four Mile Campground is open, but no water is available.

• Buckhorn Bar Campground is open with water available.

• Ponderosa Campground is open with water available.

• Secesh Campground is open, but no water is available.

For more information, call 634-0600.

Notes: As the snow melts and more of the forest opens to motorized travel at higher elevations, evidence of damage from winter and spring runoff is starting to be reported.

Visitors are reminded to be watchful for potential hazardous conditions along roads, especially after rainstorms or wind events.

Remember to tread lightly and avoid wet roads and trails so that surfaces and waterways are protected from damage where wet conditions exist.

Fire danger is a concern on the west side of the forest as grasses and other vegetation are already beginning to dry out. Be careful with camp fires, hot equipment and vehicle motors.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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