Friday, June 30, 2006

Sawtooth National Forest prepped for busy holiday

Most recreational facilities open and operating for Fourth of July weekend


By STEVE BENSON
Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Valley will swell with visitors over the Fourth of July holiday, but the mountains should offer plenty of wiggle room—depending on where you're headed.

With snow melting and most rivers dropping, the majority of recreational facilities in the Sawtooth National Forest are now open, although some are sure to be busy or even full the next several days.

To view the availability of sites that require reservations, such as the ever-popular camping complexes around Redfish Lake south of Stanley, visit www.reserveusa.com. Sites north of Ketchum in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area that don't require reservations will likely fill up rapidly.

But the backcountry surrounding Ketchum is massive and loaded with more than enough terrain to lose the crowds, if you're willing to hoof it a bit.

The Sawtooth National Forest is reporting snow on north-facing slopes and at elevations above 8,000 feet. Crews have been busy removing debris and downed trees but some trails have yet to be cleared.

All roads in the Ketchum Ranger District are open but some are partially washed out from runoff. Only the Copper Creek campground in the Little Wood drainage is closed—due to flooding from beaver activity.

In the SNRA, Boulder View and Alturas Lake Inlet campgrounds are closed, as is camping in the Fourth of July Creek drainage, which is still recovering from last September's Valley Road Fire, which charred over 40,000 acres. Trees continue to fall without warning and pose a risk to campers.

The Mormon Bend and Chemeketan campgrounds will be closed over the Fourth of July weekend.

All campgrounds in the Fairfield Ranger District are open, but the stream ford accessing Beaver Creek is not recommended, as the water is 4 feet deep in spots.

The Redfish Lake Visitor Center is offering a series of programs on the Fourth of July, including a guided flower walk and Fishhook Creek Nature Walk, and junior ranger programs "It's for the Birds" and "Animal Olympics." An evening campfire will also be offered.

For more information, call 208-774-3376.




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