Holiday weekend advice: Stay low

The high country is mostly still snowed in, and sites at low elevations are likely to fill up fast.

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMay 22, 2008 

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If you're thinking about hiking or camping in the mountains for the Memorial Day weekend, think low, as in low elevation.

Trails in the Sawtooth and White Clouds mountains are snowbound. Forest roads going to trailheads in the mountains around McCall are closed by snow.

"If someone were to ask me where to go camping over the Memorial Day weekend on the Payette, I would tell them to grab their hiking boots, fishing rods, and binoculars to view wildlife, and head up to Big Bar in Hells Canyon," said Jane Cropp, recreation program manager for the Payette National Forest. "That being said, it will be crowded because nothing in the high country is open yet, so people should be prepared to share with other folks up there doing the same thing."

She said the public should try to get a camp site Friday afternoon since camping areas fill up fast.

Here's the latest recreation report from the U.S. Forest Service:

LOWMAN AREA

All campgrounds along the South Fork of the Payette River are open. These facilities are located from Pine Flats Campground on the Banks to Lowman Road and along the Idaho 21 river corridor to Bonneville Campground. Park Creek Campground is open.

Bull Trout Lake Campground is inaccessible.

The road to Grandjean is open. The Clear Creek Road, a major route to Bear Valley, is only open about 6 miles.

Deadwood Reservoir is inaccessible due to snow on all access roads. Scott Mountain Road is closed.

The Landmark-Stanley Road is closed from Idaho 21. No access is available to Bruce Meadows or Bear Valley area due to snow.

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

Updates: Lowman Ranger District, 259-3361.

SAGEHEN/GARDEN VALLEY

All of the campgrounds near Sagehen Reservoir are expected to be inaccessible due to snow on the roads or in the campgrounds.

All campgrounds along Idaho 55 between Banks and Smiths Ferry will be available for camping.

The Middle Fork of the Payette River Road is currently open to the Trail Creek campground, but rough and muddy. Boiling Springs cabin and campground may open, but check with the ranger district for a last-minute update.

The Silver Creek area, including the Silver Creek Plunge Resort, will be open.

Updates: Emmett Ranger District, 365-7000; or Garden Valley Guard Station, 462-3241.

MIDDLE/SOUTH FORKS OF BOISE RIVER

Campgrounds in the Anderson Ranch Reservoir area are open with full services.

Facilities along Arrowrock Reservoir from the Arrowrock boat ramp to Troutdale Campground are open.

Boat ramps in Anderson Ranch and Arrowrock Reservoirs will be accessible. Campgrounds between Pine and Featherville on the South Fork of the Boise River are open. The Trinity Mountains are not expected to be clear of snow until late July.

Updates: Mountain Home Ranger District 208-587-7961.

BOISE AREA

Shafer Butte Campground is not expected to be open until late June.

Updates: Mountain Home Ranger District 208-587-7961

CASCADE AREA

All the campgrounds in the Warm Lake area are open. Summit Lake is closed.

The Johnson Creek Campgrounds may or may not be open by the holiday. Campgrounds around Lake Cascade are open.

The South Fork Salmon River is open to Yellow Pine, but the road from Warm Lake to Landmark and down Johnson Creek is closed. The Landmark-Stanley Road to Deadwood Summit is also closed due to snow.

West Mountain Road is open. Snowbank Mountain Road is closed but might be open for the holiday.

The Stolle Meadows Road is open into the meadows, but access to Cupp, Corral or Rice Creek roads is limited.

Updates: Cascade Ranger District, 373-7400.

IDAHO CITY AREA

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

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

James Creek Road and Phifer Creek Road to Atlanta may or may not be open by the weekend.

Granite Creek Road is open to the North Fork of the Boise River Road. High elevation roads, Edna Creek and Swanholm Summit to Atlanta, are closed.

Updates: Idaho City Ranger District, 392-6681.

BOISE NATIONAL FOREST

For more information on recreation, visit the Natural Resource Visitor Center at 1387 S. Vinnell Way; call 373-4007; or see www.fs.fed.us/r4/boise.

MCCALL AREA

No campgrounds will be open in the McCall or New Meadows ranger districts. Crews were hoping to open Last Chance Campground in time.

Both the Warren Wagon and Lick Creek roads are not open past the first few miles out of McCall.

In the Krassel Ranger District, Poverty Flat and Buckhorn Bar campgrounds are open along the South Fork of the Salmon River Road with full services.

Four Mile, Camp Creek and Ponderosa (not the state park) campgrounds are open, but without water.

Updates: McCall Ranger Ranger District, 208-634-0400; New Meadows Ranger District, (208) 347-0300.

COUNCIL/WEISER AREAS

Most campgrounds in the Council and Weiser ranger districts will be open.

Mann Creek Campground located near Mann Creek Reservoir will be open. Lafferty, Brownlee and Big Flat campgrounds are also open with limited amenities.

High-elevation trails are not open. The three trails out of Big Bar: Kinney Creek, Eckels Creek and Allison Creek are now clear of snow and offer good hiking opportunities.

Updates: Weiser Ranger District, (208) 549-4200; Council Ranger District, (208) 253-0100.

KETCHUM AREA

North Fork Road is open to Caribou Campground.

Murdock Creek Road is open to the trailhead. The trailhead and trail are still closed. Boulder Basin Road is open a mile.

Updates: Ketchum Ranger Station, (208) 622-5371.

STANLEY AREA

Redfish and Stanley Lake campgrounds are expected to be open for the weekend.

Chinook Bay and Mountain View campgrounds at Little Redfish Lake will be open.

Some of the sites are still too muddy but will be those will be flagged. No potable water is available (testing is underway).

Sunny Gulch Campground will be open with water. It is dry and the best selection for a campsite in the Redfish Area.

Redfish Lake Lodge has plans to open Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

All campgrounds down river along the Salmon River will be open with full services and full fees. The river is high.

Forget hiking in the Sawtooths and White Clouds. Trails are snowbound and creek crossings are raging.

Updates: Stanley Ranger Station, (208) 774-3000.

STATE PARKS

Ponderosa State Park at McCall will not be open for camping over Memorial Day weekend for the first time in its history.

A large amount of snow and downed timber from the winter have prevented state park crews from getting the park open in time. The park usually fills up on holiday weekends.

Park crews have had a tough time moving snow around and finding a place to put it. Downed trees have also prevented crews from doing campground maintenance.

It is hopeful that crews can open the road to the boat ramp, a spokesperson said.

Campers with reservations for the weekend can call (208) 630-5049 to rebook their reservations or get a refund.

Idaho Parks and Recreation officials are discouraging tent camping in some higher elevation state parks because of muddy conditions, especially Lake Cascade State Park.

Current conditions for all Idaho state parks have been posted online at: www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445

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