Friday, May 25, 2012

Campgrounds start to open up

Boundary, North Fork open for holiday weekend

Express Staff Writer

Some campers had already settled into campsites near the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters north of Ketchum on Wednesday. Photo by David N. Seelig

Memorial Day means American flags, patriotism, honoring veterans and enjoying the first barbecue of the year. It also means the first official camping weekend of the year, and the U.S. Forest Service and BLM have opened a number of campgrounds just in time for the holiday weekend.

"Things are opening up pretty much around the district for car camping," said Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson. "Backpacking, you're going to run into lingering snow on shady northern sides [but] we're probably three to four weeks ahead of schedule."

This time last year, Trail Creek Road was still covered in avalanche debris and the Wood River Valley was looking forward to snow all weekend and through the end of the month. This year's forecast calls for rain Friday night through Saturday night, but Monday looks to be sunny and warm.

Nelson said that despite the cool temperatures expected this weekend, warmer, drier weather earlier this season enabled some areas to open earlier than expected.

"The idea was to get as much as possible open by Memorial Day," he said. "People should be able to find a place to camp."

Boundary Campground east of Sun Valley will be open with full services and fees—$10 a night for a single unit. Farther north, most of the campgrounds on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area will be open with full services and fees. According to a release from the Sawtooth National Forest, the only campgrounds not open near Redfish Lake in the SNRA are Sockeye, Mount Heyburn and Redfish Inlet.


The Smokey Bear Campground and boat ramp near Alturas Lake south of Stanley are open without fees through June 4. The North Fork, Murdock, Caribou, Wood River and Easley campgrounds are also open for the weekend.

The BLM announced that most of its campgrounds will be open this weekend, though an agency press release suggests checking its website,, for local road and weather conditions.

For those who choose to brave the weather, Nelson and BLM spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto offered a few pointers. Gardetto urged those using motorized vehicles or equipment to stay on designated trails and avoid driving or parking on dry grass or vegetation to avoid sparking the season's first wildfire. Motorists are also asked not to drive on muddy roads to prevent damage.

Nelson asked that campers beware of high water and remember to pack out all trash generated during the trip.

"It helps keep the forest clean and helps ensure a nice time for the next people," he said.

Though lands in the southern regions of Idaho may be dried out, Nelson said, fire danger on the Ketchum Ranger District is low.

"This would be a good time to enjoy some camping," he said. "It looks like it will be a pretty strong fire year, so there could be a lot of smoke in the air later this year."

Katherine Wutz:

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