Cool, wet spring affects Memorial Day weekend camping
Campers shouldn’t get their hopes too high for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and they can’t set them too low, either.
A huge lingering snowpack is barring access to the high country throughout the Inland Northwest, and landslides and flooding are restricting access to a few lowland camping areas and water-access sites.
Here’s an indicator of what’s going on:
The Route of the Hiawatha rail Trail straddling the Montana-Idaho divide is scheduled to open June 11, Lookout Pass ski area announced Wednesday – that’s three weeks later than last year.
In Montana, flooding on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers has forced officials to close many fishing-access sites this week.
Bitterroot River access closures include, from south to north: Hannon Memorial, WW White, Darby Bridge, Wally Crawford, Woodside Bridge, Tucker Crossing, Bell Crossing, Poker Joe and Florence Bridge.
Clark Fork sites closed near Missoula include Turah, Schwartz Creek, Kona and Kelly Island (Mullan Road access only).
Idaho Panhandle National Forests are keeping several popular recreation sites closed for the holiday weekend.
• Coeur d’Alene River District closures include Honeysuckle Campground and the Bumblebee Meadows dispersed campsites.
Dobson Pass road is blocked. Coeur d’Alene River Road 208 is open to Magee with some snowy patches.
• St. Joe District closures include Shadowy St. Joe Campground and Telichpah Campground (a washout on the access road is being repaired, so a last-minute opening may occur).
All campgrounds and recreation sites upstream from Fly Flat Campground on Red Ives Road will be closed.
• Priest River District closures include Outlet Campground, which is closed for renovations.
• Sandpoint District closures include Whiskey Rock.
Dispersed campsites around Lake Pend Oreille are accessible only by boat.
On Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Blackwell Island Public Boat Launch will remain closed until the high water subsides, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says. The launch was under 2 feet of water Wednesday.
BLM’s Windy Bay site, which is under 18 inches of water, also is closed. If the water comes up as high as expected, the walk-in access into Mica Bay Boater Park will be underwater as well, officials say.
Killarney Boat Launch and Huckleberry Campground facilities could be impacted.
Clearwater National Forest officials report landslides are delaying the opening of two popular campgrounds along the North Fork Clearwater River – Hidden Creek and Cedars.
The Aquarius, Washington Creek, Noe Creek and Kelly Forks campgrounds already are open to forest visitors, but the water systems may not be on.
Road 250 above Kelly Forks remains obstructed by slides and snow.
On Washington’s east slope of the North Cascades, numerous roads are closed by snow and runoff, the Washington Department of Natural Resources says.
Portions of some roads in the Colockum and L.T. Murray wildlife areas are closed, as well as some in the Naneum Ridge State Forest and a few in Yakima County.
In the Blue Mountains, the Umatilla National Forest reports significant snow above elevation 4,500 feet.
“For example, the snow depth at Tollgate is still somewhere around 3 to 5 feet,” said Jeff Bloom, forest recreation specialist.
Dispersed campsites at the lower elevations may be snow-free but the ground is rain-soaked and saturated.
Off-road driving and parking – and even pushing too far up established roads – could be extremely destructive to public land and resources in these wet conditions, land managers emphasize. Leaving ruts is a violation.
“Whether you pull off the road to pick mushrooms, load firewood or find a place to camp, the weight of the vehicle can cause it to sink and get stuck,” Bloom said.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials have closed all trails to motorized use on the Cle Elum Ranger District April 15-June 15 to protect natural resources during periods of heavy use, spring precipitation and run-off from snow melt. Trails remain open to non-motorized use.
Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.