Thursday, May 21, 2009

Go camping for Memorial Day Weekend

Hi all,

Well the weather looks fantastic for Memorial Day weekend, that's a rarity in itself.

Summer temperatures are kicking in, the snow is receding higher up in the mountains, the rivers are rising, and lower-elevation camping zones are free and clear of snow.

So for the tip of the week, I recommend going camping at elevations between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. Specifically, close to Boise, the Middle Fork of the Boise River and the North Fork of the Boise River are full of dozens of self-serve dispersed camping areas, and a few developed sites. Bring your own camping gear, water, food, supplies, and maybe bring the fishing poles, bikes, or whatever, and have a great weekend.

How to get there: Go to Idaho City. Just north of town, go right on the Rabbit Creek road (USFS Road #327), and drive over the mountains into the North Fork of the Boise. You'll arrive at the North Fork by Black Rock Campground, a developed site, and then there are a ton of dispersed sites for the next 10-plus miles, including Barber Flat and Deer Park, both beautiful rental cabins and meadows next to the North Fork. Cruise around and pick your own place to camp.

The Forest Service in Idaho City reports that the roads leading into the North Fork, the Middle Fork and Atlanta are snow-free. The snow level is about 6,000 feet. The Park 'n Ski trail areas around Banner Ridge still have snow in places. So focusing on lower-elevation areas is a good idea right now, unless you want to play in the snow.

Try to snag a map of the Boise National Forest before you go so you can consider your options after you've made camp. One hiking or biking possibility is to hike or bike a singletrack trail along the North Fork of the Boise, between Deer Park and Graham. The trail is snow-free near Deer Park, and you should be able to make a number of miles before you get into snow. I don't have any reports about the snow level at Graham. Let me know!

If you go camping, be sure to bring plenty of sun screen and bug stuff. It's going to be a warm weekend with lots of sunshine. Lather up. Expect to see a lot of mosquitoes. Watch for ticks as well. It's that time of year.

- SS