Thursday, May 21, 2015

Don't forget the BIG TARP! Nine last-minute outdoor tips for Memorial Day weekend

The Owyhees near Leslie Gulch (courtesy WildOwyhee)
If you do go camping in the mountains, bring a big tarp! Party under the tarp! 
View toward Silver City from Toy Pass, near Oreana, Owyhee Mountains 
Camping on the big white sandy beaches on the Salmon river is deluxe! 
Lochsa River madness! 
Hi all,

Memorial Day weekend is upon us! Typically, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer camping season, and I'm sure there will be tons of people heading into the high country this weekend to their favorite camping destination.

And, as often happens on Memorial Day weekend, the weather forecast this year calls for scattered rain showers in the mountains. Sixty percent chance Friday, 50 percent chance Saturday, and less chance Sunday and Monday. If you're heading into the mountains near Cascade, McCall, Idaho City, Stanley or Ketchum/Sun Valley, bring a BIG TARP! Make sure your tent is rain-worthy.

Looking south to the Owyhees, I see more favorable forecasts for the Grand View and Marsing areas in the front side of the Owyhees. I see a 40 percent chance of scattered showers Friday, 30 percent chance Sunday, and only 20 percent chance on Monday. Deeper in the desert, I see higher chances of rainfall in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

I see a similar forecast for Riggins, with a 60 percent chance of showers on Friday, 50 percent chance of thundershowers on Saturday, and 30 percent chance on Monday.

So here's some last-minute camping recommendations for Memorial Day weekend, tailored to the weather:

  • Camping in the Owyhees should be good, but be forewarned, the rattlesnakes are emerging. 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.
  • Morel mushrooms are popping in the Boise and Payette national forests. Morels are delicious and easy to identify. Look for them above 5,000-foot elevation. Take a day trip to Smith's Ferry, Cascade or McCall and hunt for morels. 
  • Salmon River beaches! A great spring camping location is on the HUGE white sandy beaches along the Salmon River, upstream of Riggins. There are numerous big 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 day hike up Rapid River is a sweet one. The trailhead is about two miles south of Riggins. 
  • Take a day hike on the front side of the Owyhees ... See my Owyhee Canyonlands guide, available at most outdoor stores and book stores. I'd recommend Little Jacks Creek, the West Fork Shoofly Quick Loop, Between the Creeks, Toy Pass hikes, Reynolds Creek, Wilson Creek, Jump Creek Canyon or Wildcat Canyon. The roads could be iffy depending on how much it rains, so exercise good judgment. 
  • Head up to the Lochsa River and go rafting on the biggest whitewater weekend of the year on the Lochsa.  
  • Stay home and hike/ride/run in the Boise Foothills - Trails are drying out pretty quick after the rain. Check on the Ridge to Rivers web site or Boise Foothills Trail Conditions page on Facebook to check on the latest trail conditions before you go. Stick to the sandy trails. 
  • Stay close to home and go for a road bike ride. See my Boise Road Cycling Guide for ideas. 
  • Stay close to home and check out the Memorial Day sales at your favorite local outdoor stores. Idaho Mountain Touring is having a tent sale (20-50% off), McU Sports is having a 20% sale, Boise REI is having a 30% sale, Sierra Trading Post is having a 40-80% sale, and I'm sure I'm overlooking some other sales.  
There you have it! Have a great weekend no matter what you do! 
- SS