Winter Recreation

Campers rejoice: Two of six Idaho yurts will open for winter use

The popular Stargaze yurt is one of two, with Banner Ridge, that will be open this winter despite initial reports that said Pioneer Fire damage would close all six Idaho backcountry yurts.
The popular Stargaze yurt is one of two, with Banner Ridge, that will be open this winter despite initial reports that said Pioneer Fire damage would close all six Idaho backcountry yurts. Idaho State Parks and Recreation

First, the bad news: four Idaho backcountry yurts will remain closed indefinitely because of the Pioneer Fire that started this summer near Lowman.

But there’s good news, too. Two yurts, Banner Ridge and Stargaze, will open, possibly as early as November, according to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the Boise National Forest.

Crews are in the area now, removing dead trees and clearing trails. Current reservation holders will receive notice and instruction from Parks and Recreation.

The four closed yurts will remain closed indefinitely due to the fire. Parks and Recreation will provide full refunds for anyone who has paid for a yurt they can’t use.

“The Pioneer Fire impacted much of the region surrounding the Idaho City Backcountry Yurt System and we had been told to prepare for a lengthy closure,” said Jennifer Okerlund, IDPR communications manager in a Thursday press release. “A partial opening, even with limited access, is wonderful news for our customers and we’re excited to begin the process of preparing Banner and Stargaze for winter use.”

The Pioneer Fire was the largest in the nation for the 2016 fire season. Recovery work will be ongoing in the area. Hazards still exist, say officials, in the form of falling trees, loose rocks and potential flooding. They advise visitors to use caution when traveling in the burned area.

Trail grooming will not take place this winter due to safety concerns on the trail system. For those wishing to make use of the parking lots to access the area and the two open yurts, Park N’ Ski Permits will be required. Funds from the sale of Park N’ Ski Permits specifically support the contracted plowing of parking lots for winter access.

Maps are available that identify safe areas and those still closed. Those maps will be available for download on the IDPR website. Printed copies are also available at businesses in Idaho City.

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