|Aerosol image from NASA shows smoke plume migrating to Idaho this week ...|
|Bigger picture fire and smoke map (courtesy NASA)|
|The Little Queens fire two days ago (courtesy Inci.web)|
Compared to last year at this time, when most of Idaho was on fire, and there was smoke in many places in the mountains, the outlook is much more favorable for Labor Day weekend. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s in the mountains, and the only smoke affecting your adventure might be from the Rim Fire in Yosemite or from the Little Queens Fire near Atlanta in the Sawtooths.
So here are some suggestions for Labor Day camping and outdoor adventure outings. Remember that most areas are under a campfire restriction, so the only place where you can have a campfire is in an official Forest Service campground with the deep, steel fire pits:
|Stolle Meadows and South Fork of the Salmon River|
- Cascade area - Stolle Meadows and Landmark are my favorite camping areas in this neck of the woods. There are tons of primitive car-camping spots in both locations, east of Cascade, off the Warm Lake Highway. Plus, there are hot springs in the vicinity. Near Stolle Meadows, you can take the Forest Service road #474 up to a fork with Rice Creek, and follow the left fork up to a trailhead for Rice Lake and Rice Peak. Nice and easy hike up to Rice Peak, and you can explore ridge tops from there ... In the Landmark area, there's a little-known mountain bike loop from the McClure Trail to the Buck Creek Trail ... it's kind of obscure, so not sure how much downfall is on the trail.
Lick Creek area in the Payette National Forest
- McCall area - Camping, hiking and backpacking in the Lick Creek area NE of McCall should be fabulous. Some of the nice mountain lakes up there include Box, Snowslide, Hum, Enos and Thirty-three lakes. Pick up a Payette National Forest map or a McCall Adventure Map to get the details for access. Also, check my blog from earlier this summer on five easy-to-access kid-friendly mountain lakes in the McCall area.
- Stanley area - Not sure if smoke will be an issue from the Little Queens fire, but I'm sure the Stanley area will be hopping with lots of campers at Stanley Lake, Redfish Lake, Pettit Lake and points along the Salmon River. Backpacking in the White Clouds should be dandy, particularly from the East Fork side, being a three-day weekend and all. Don't forget the Marsh Creek Trail as another potential destination ... great hiking and fly fishing spot. Hike up to the junction of Bear Valley and Marsh Creeks, and there's a huge glory hole right there.
North and Middle Forks of the Boise River ... car-camping mecca
- Idaho City area - The North and Middle Forks of the Boise River area open for camping, which is great, because these areas were closed last summer because of the Trinity Ridge Fire. Because of the Little Queens Fire, the Middle Fork road is restricted upstream of Dutch Creek. The Rabbit Creek Road is open with no restrictions, according to the Forest Service. Both the North Fork and the Middle Fork are good for fishing.
- The South Fork Boise area is mostly burned now after the Pony and Elk Complex fires, so I don't recommend camping in that area above or below Anderson Ranch Dam.
These guys know how to play! Salmon River baby!
- Salmon River beaches - Should be fab upstream of Riggins. Pick your spot, bring your rafts and kayaks, and your volleyball and bocce ball sets. Get there early! The prime beaches will be taken early.
If you're staying in town, I'm hearing that some people will be taking in the Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival, going on from Thursday through Sunday. There are supposed to be more than 5,000 balloon launches.
Also, Labor Day weekend is chock full of big sales at your favorite outdoor retailers in the Boise area, places like Idaho Mountain Touring, George's Cycles, Boise REI, Greenwood's, McU Sports, Alpenglow Mountain Sport, Idaho River Sports, Shu's Idaho Running Company, Sierra Trading Post all have some fantastic clothing and gear on sale right now. Great deals! Go get 'em!