Friday, May 15, 2020

Forest Service opening campgrounds beginning next week in preparation for Memorial Day weekend

Elena, left, just finished her MBA at Boise State, and Quinn finished his junior year at Colby-Sawyer College. 
Hi all,

I am assuming that people are chomping at the bit to go camping, and next week, the Forest Service is opening a wide array of campgrounds in the Boise National Forest beginning on Wednesday, May 20, in the Cascade Ranger District around Lake Cascade, Warm Lake and the South Fork of the Salmon River.

More campgrounds will open later in the week in the Idaho City, Lowman and Mountain Home districts, and Forest Service officials requested that the public remain patient as they work to open the campgrounds and remove downed timber and other debris prior to Memorial Day weekend.

The opening of campgrounds is good news for Idaho campers who have been yearning to go camping in the national forest where there are camping facilities, water and rest rooms. Forest officials recommend that forest visitors should follow the state's Recreation Responsibly guidelines in terms of going in groups of 10 or less, practicing good hygiene, wear PPE and maintain social distancing of at least six feet from strangers. 

Up to now, mainly day trips have been emphasized for hiking and biking, and campgrounds and rest rooms have been closed.

More updates:
  • Idaho State Parks are open for day use only. State Parks will be opening campgrounds for Memorial Day on May 30. 
  • The famed Middle Fork of the Salmon River and Main Salmon-River of No Return will be re-opened for public use on Saturday, May 16. Permits are required through
  • Access to the desert rivers in Idaho, the Payette River, non-permitted sections of the Salmon River, are open. Desert river flows are on the wane for rafting ... Owyhee River flow was 700 cfs today (1,000+ cfs is best for rafting), and Bruneau was falling below 800 cfs (1,000+ best for rafting).
  • Yellowstone National Park will begin a phased reopening starting on Monday, May 18, with access from the south portal, north of Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the east entrance via Cody, Wyo.  
  • Can't see as much detail as to what's planned for campground openings and other facilities in the Payette National Forest or Sawtooth National Recreation Area at the moment, but keep checking to see what is planned as Memorial Day approaches.
Mountain snow is melting, and that is opening up more hiking and biking trails and forest roads.
The U.S. Forest Service interactive map showing what facilities are open and closed is still mostly red with closed sites, but it should be turning more green next week and beyond as facilities begin to open for the summer season.

It's really fun to hike up to the top of the Grand Ronde River canyon for excellent views.
Wendy and I took our kids Quinn and Elena on a 4-day trip on the Grand Ronde River in Eastern Oregon last week, and it felt wonderful to get out of town and go camping on this scenic river just 3+ hours from Boise. We had great weather for the trip.

Flowers galore!
But it was cold at night, and with plenty of firewood along the river corridor, we had a great campfire each night and also each morning. That just felt wonderful hanging out around the fire, feeling the warmth of the fire, the wonderful smell and sounds of the campfire, and swapping stories into the night.

Remember to respect other people when you're out visiting our public lands or going camping in the coming days or weeks. In other words, give them personal space out of respect for their health and safety and yours.

Let's continue to flatten and crush the COVID-19 curve in the weeks ahead!
- SS