|Campground info headed into Memorial Day Weekend|
|Information from Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests|
OROFINO - Snow-laden landscapes are giving way to green grass and wildflowers - a sure sign that spring has finally arrived on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.
Most of the the forests' campgrounds offer first-come, first-served site selection, although you can reserve campsites at a few campgrounds managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Contact Forest Service offices for lists of local campgrounds that accept reservations. To reserve a campsite, call Recreation.gov at 1 (877) 444-6777, or visit the Recreation.gov website: www.Recreation.gov. Reservations should be made at least four days in advance.
Visitors can camp at sites outside developed campgrounds called "dispersed sites." However, campers who choose to stay in undeveloped sites should take extra care to protect natural resources, such as plant life. Use existing fire rings if available, and pack out trash.
Three of the four developed campgrounds on the Palouse Ranger District - Laird Park, Little Boulder and Giant White Pine - are open, and all standard campground amenities are available. The Elk Creek Campground, near the town of Elk River, will open May 24. The Elk Creek Campground features 23 sites with electrical hookups; some sites can be reserved.
There is no trash service at any of the four campgrounds on the Palouse District, so please take your refuse with you when you leave.
Reserve a group picnic area at Little Boulder or Laird Park Campgrounds, as well as the pavilion at Elk Creek Campground, by calling the Potlatch Ranger Station at 875-1131.
On the North Fork Ranger District, Aquarius Campground and Noe Creek Campground will open on Friday, May 24. Three campgrounds will remain closed through Memorial Day weekend: The Washington Creek and Kelly Forks Campgrounds are scheduled to open Friday, June 7, and Hidden Creek Campground is expected to open June 14.
All campgrounds on the Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, including Wilderness Gateway and Powell Campgrounds, will open by May 23. Elk Summit Campground will not be accessible until sometime in June, when Elk Summit Road 360 melts outs. The Jerry Johnson Campground will remain closed to overnight camping all summer, and Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is open for day use only from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Water systems have been turned on and tested at Wild Goose, Apgar, Wilderness Gateway, Wendover, Whitehouse, Powell and White Sands Campgrounds. Campers will have to provide their own water at other Lochsa River sites.
On the Moose Creek Ranger District, all of the campgrounds that flank the "Wild and Scenic" Selway River are open. Only Johnson Bar and O'Hara Campgrounds have water. Campers are welcome to fill water jugs at the Fenn Visitor Center, and there's fresh water at the Cedar Flats Dump Station, too.
Sam Manifold, Developed Recreation Tech, describes campgrounds on the Nez Perce National Forest as "great places to enjoy the long, lazy holiday weekend."
"Fee campgrounds situated along the South Fork Clearwater River, including Castle Creek Campground and South Fork Campground, are open and potable water is available. Spring Bar Campground, located along the Salmon River, is open, but water systems won't be up and running until mid-June." Manifold also said that Fish Creek Campground, located seven miles south of Grangeville, is open for the summer season and water should be available by May 24.
On the Red River Ranger District, construction at Red River Campground has been completed and a new water system has been installed. A fee of $6.00 per day is being reinstated from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
River and Stream Conditions
River users will notice a few improvements at river access points along the Lochsa River. New toilets were recently installed at Boulder Flat and Bald Mountain. Rafters and kayakers will also find new stairs and a raft slide at Fish Creek River Access and new stairs at the Split Creek take-out. Changing rooms have been built at Fish Creek and Knife edge, and a new boat ramp is currently under construction at Bald Mountain.
According to Heather Berg, the Forests' Wild and Scenic Rivers Administrator, persons planning Memorial Day float trips are expected to exercise good judgment. "River levels are predicted to be high and the water cold for Memorial Day Weekend," Berg said. "Boaters are encouraged to use caution and wear personal floatation devices and helmets while on the water. If in doubt of your skills or equipment, utilize of the licensed and permitted whitewater outfitters."
Roads and Trails
For your safety and to prevent damage to the land, stay on roads and trails and avoid those that are too wet or muddy. Spring break-up can wreak havoc on roads.
Check with local ranger stations for recommended trails before planning your favorite hike, horseback ride or ATV adventure. For the most up-to-date information on road conditions and trail status, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices.
Early-season trail users should do their homework before planning a trip to the backcountry. Due to a healthy snow pack and continued cool temperatures into April, only lower elevation trails and roads are currently open. Travel on all accessible national forest trails may still be slow going at times.
On the Clearwater National Forest's Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, trails are starting to clear of snow to roughly 5000' in elevation although, in the deep woods, snow can still be found at 4000'. Visitors hiking Forest trails over Memorial Day weekend should be aware that they may encounter downed trees, rocks, flooded trails, or other hazards.
Most trails on the North Fork Ranger District are open for the first two to three miles.
Trail users should always to yield to stock.
Off-highway vehicle users, note: ATVs and motorcycles driven on national forest roads and trails are subject to state of Idaho registration laws and requirements. Contact your local motor vehicle department or the state of Idaho Parks and Recreation website (www.idahoparks.org/recreation) for a listing of registration sticker vendors and regulations. Also, please remember that all vehicles classed as UTVs (side-by-sides), regardless of weight or width, are not allowed on Forest trails.
Travel into the North Fork Clearwater River country via Beaver Creek Road 247 is open from Headquarters all the way to Bungalow, but travelers are advised to use caution. Road 247 may be narrow in places, and drivers should be wary of soft shoulders, sinkholes and slumps. Because of residual snow, it isn't possible to access many of the spur roads that join Road 247.
On the North Fork Ranger District, French Mountain Road 250 is open from Pierce to Cedars Campground, although the road is reduced to a single lane near French Mountain Saddle. Road 250 through Black Canyon is open to car and truck traffic, but the road is closed to RVs and towed trailers due to large, loose rock and a slump near Hidden Creek. Road 255 through Deception Saddle is open.
The Kamiah-Lolo Creek-Weippe Loop, Road 100, is open from end-to-end. Road 103, Musselshell Meadows, is open for the first two miles from its junction with Road 100.
Elk Meadows Road 373 and Granite Pass Road 595, near Lolo Pass on the Powell Ranger District, are starting to melt out, but neither road will open by Memorial Day.
Most of the roads on the Salmon River and Red River Ranger Districts are open for a few miles before snow impedes travel. Memorial Day drivers should contact their local Forest office for updated road information. Conditions can change rapidly.
The Magruder Road Corridor (Road 468) between Elk City and Darby, Montana, and the remains closed by snow.
Visitor centers provide information, firewood permits, mushroom permits and maps to Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest visitors. All Forest Service offices will close Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.
In Grangeville, the Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor's Office is located at 104 Airport Road. The office is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
The historic Fenn Ranger Station, located just a few short miles from US Highway 12 near Lowell, is on the National Register for Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour highlights this beautifully landscaped, working historic ranger station built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Lolo Pass Visitor Center on Highway 12 at the Idaho-Montana state line is open five days a week: Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (Pacific Time) each day. Beginning June 1, the visitor center will open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Forty-eight miles east of Kooskia, along Highway 12, stop by the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. The station is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week. Forest Service volunteers host the site and are happy to answer your questions about what life was like on remote ranger stations in days gone by.
The Kooskia Ranger Station is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Friendly Forest Service employees are ready to assist holiday travelers as they make their way to favorite campsites and recreation areas.
In Orofino, the Clearwater National Forest Supervisor's Office located along U.S. Highway 12 is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Potlatch Ranger Station, 18 miles north of Moscow along State Highway 6, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to welcome visitors.
Call the Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor's Office at 983-1950 or the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk at 476-8267. Or check online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater.
Half of Payette's setups good to go
MCCALL - Spring has arrived on the west side of the Payette National Forest, and is beginning to take hold on the east side of the Forest and in the mountains. Snow is still present at high elevations and on north facing slopes and is not likely to be gone for a few more weeks. Recent rain have created high water in some areas and we've discovered a few spots where routes have been damaged by either spring run off or this past winter's snow. Almost half of the Forest's campgrounds will be open during Memorial Day weekend and depending on the weather, conditions should be good for the official start of summer. Whether you prefer mountain biking, fishing, camping, kayaking, hiking, 4-wheeling or wildlife watching, you'll be able to find the perfect spot for your activity on the Payette National Forest.
With the weather warming up as much as it has in McCall, Valley County has already plowed open Warren Wagon Road to Warren Summit. Goose Lake road on the McCall Ranger District is closed due to construction. Upper elevation campgrounds are still full of snow and will not likely be open until late June. PNF campgrounds that are currently open:
Weiser & Council Ranger Districts: Mann Creek road open. Fourbit creek road from Mill Creek summit to the Little Weiser River is closed due to a washed out culvert.
Mann Creek Campground - open, with water available.
Spring Creek Campground - open, with water available.
Brownlee Campground - open, with water available.
Big Flat Campground - open, with water available.
Cabin Creek Campground - open with water available, but will be closed on May 28 to remove hazard trees.
Evergreen Campground - open, with water available.
Lafferty Campground open, but no water is available.
Huckleberry Campground open, but no water is available.
New Meadows & McCall Ranger Districts: Goose lake road is closed due to construction. Goose Creek trail out of Last Chance Campground is open for hiking. Boulder Lake is accessible, but visitors should expect to find snow around the lake shore.
Cold Springs Campground - open, with water available.
Last Chance Campground - open, with water available.
Kennally Creek Campground - open, but no water is available.
Chinook Campground - open, but no water is available.
Krassel Ranger District & the South Fork Salmon River area:
Poverty Campground - open, with water available.
Camp Creek Campground - open, but no water is available.
Four Mile Campground - open, but no water is available.
Buckhorn Bar Campground - open, with water available.
Ponderosa Campground - open, with water available.
Secesh Campground - open, but no water is available.
There are two interpretive trails that we suggest visitors to visit. On the New Meadows Ranger District, adjacent to Lost Valley Reservoir is the Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel interpretive trail is a short 1/4 mile hike that begins the trailhead located along the northeastern portion of Forest Road 089. Another great family interpretive hike is a trail located on the Krassel Ranger District, along the South Fork Salmon River Road at the Poverty Overlook. This 1/2 mile loop hiking trail interprets fire ecology and the history of the area over the past 100 years.
For mountain biking opportunities, the popular Bear Basin area contains over 15 miles of trails that were specifically designed for beginning, intermediate and expert mountain biking. The Bear Basin area is located off of Highway 55 approximately 2 miles west of McCall.
As the snow melts and higher temperatures open the Forest to motorized travel at higher elevations and in remote areas, evidence of damage from winter and spring runoff is starting to be reported. Visitors are reminded to be watchful for potential hazardous conditions along roadways, especially after rainstorms or wind events. Please contact local Ranger Districts to report road damage or hazards that have not been signed.
Remember to tread lightly and avoid wet roads and trails so that road 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 when you visit the National Forest. The Payette National Forest wishes everyone a safe and pleasant holiday weekend.
For more information, please contact our Forest Service offices:
Council Ranger District - 208-252-0100
Weiser Ranger District - 208- 549-4200
New Meadows Ranger District - 208-347-0300
McCall Ranger District - 208-634-0400
Krassel Ranger District - 208-634-0600
Forest Supervisor's Office in McCall - 208-634-0700
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