Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last-minute ideas for Memorial Day weekend - Campers: dress warm and bring firewood!

Dress warm for camping this weekend ... and you'll be fine. 
Middle Fork Boise River 
The Morel picking has been hit and miss so far ... 
Wind River pack bridge, trailhead for the Wind River Trail on the Salmon River 
Rapid River Trail in Riggins is a dandy hiking and backpacking destination 
Hi all,

It's expected to be fairly chilly this weekend, particularly in the mountains. But at least there isn't much rain in the forecast. Last year, Memorial Day was pretty soggy in the mountains, and that definitely puts a damper on things. But this year, it should be dry, with temperatures in the low 60s by the afternoon in the mountains, which is nice weather for hiking and biking. Just bring a few extra layers.

[Here is the audio from Steve's outdoor tips re: Memorial Day weekend on the the River Mornings show]

Roger Phillips from the Idaho Statesman Outdoors pulled together a nice summary of the camping, road and trail conditions in the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth national forests in today's paper. The upshot seems to be that trails, roads and campgrounds below 6,000-foot elevation are open for Memorial Day weekend activities, and sites above that elevation are more iffy or closed by snow. Bull Trout Lake is closed by snow, for example, and so are Deadwood Reservoir and the Trinity Mountains.

Here are some ideas for Memorial Day camping and outings:

  • With these cool temperatures, camping in the Owyhees will be warmer than heading into the national forest. See my spring camping blog post from March ... places like Bruneau Dunes State Park, Leslie Gulch, Succor Creek State Park or the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area would all be good bets. 
  • Camping near Idaho City should be great. Take the Rabbit Creek Road into the North Fork of the Boise River or the Middle Fork of the Boise River. There are tons of places to camp along both river corridors.
  • Camping near Stanley should be fine, too, just a little colder. Highs are forecast in the 60s in the afternoons but in the 20s at night. Campgrounds are open at the ever-popular Redfish Lake and vicinity. Can't beat the view!   
  • The Edna Creek road is clear of snow and freshly graded, according to the Forest Service, if you'd like to head up to Atlanta and do some camping or hiking.
  • Morel mushrooms appear to be sprouting (I'm seeing pics of morels on my Facebook friends' pages ... people who live in Valley County), so it might be a good time to check areas that got burned last summer for morels. The Trinity Ridge fire area near Pine and Featherville comes to mind, so would the forest north of Stanley. Some forest roads are closed because of fire rehabilitation, but hopefully you can get into some of the burn areas on foot or bike to pick morels. David Olson from the Boise National Forest reports that as of June 1, no permits will be needed for commercial or private morel picking in the Trinity Ridge fire zone. Apparently so far, the morel crop is a dud. Hopefully, that'll change? Be aware that certain forest roads are closed in the vicinity to work on post-fire rehab.
  • The trails and roads in the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas are snow-free and open to the public. The yurts are all rented for the weekend, according to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, but you can find other spots for car-camping in the vicinity and go hiking and biking on Park n Ski trails. 
  • Another cool spring camping location is along the Salmon River, upstream of Riggins. There are numerous HUGE white sandy beaches up there where you can set up a great camp, hang out by the river, do some floating on the Salmon and/or go hiking. The hike on the Wind River Trail via the Wind River Pack Bridge about 25 miles upstream of Riggins has a number of switchbacks as you climb higher and higher up the Salmon River canyon. The trail eventually leads into the Gospel Hump Wilderness, but you probably won't get that far. That'd be a great hike right now.
  • If you're in the Riggins area, the hike up Rapid River is a sweet one, too. The trailhead is about two miles south of Riggins. I just saw some beautiful photos from some folks who went backpacking in the Rapid River last weekend. 
  • Camping in Lake Cascade State Park should be dandy as well. If you go to Cascade, the Crown Point Trail is a great family friendly hike or bike ride for all abilities and ages. It's about 3 miles one-way to a temporary dead-end, and 3 miles back. You also can go biking or hiking on the The Strand, a two-mile trail along the North Fork of the Payette River in Cascade. Very pretty spot, and it's next to Kelly's Whitewater Park. 
There are a few ideas to chew on ... Have fun!
- SS  

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