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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — May 28, 2004

Arts and Entertainment

Travel group predicts record numbers of travelers this weekend

Express Staff Writer

A large number of recreation facilities will be open and available for visitors to the Sawtooth National Forest this Memorial Day weekend.

"We have experienced earlier than normal warm weather," said Forest Supervisor Ruth Monahan. "As a result, the snow is gone from many areas enabling our crews to get many of our developed recreation facilities open for this upcoming holiday weekend."

Monahan added, however, that conditions are changing daily and recommended that visitors contact a local Forest Service office before embarking for the hills.

"This is especially true for weather conditions, which can rapidly change during this time of the year," she said.

Forest visitors are advised to bring their own drinking water as campground water systems will not be operational for this weekend.

And if the American Automobile Association is correct, record numbers of Americans will be traveling this weekend, despite record-high gasoline prices.

"In the past 60 days, our reference point about where gasoline prices should be has been drastically altered, but Americans appear nowhere near willing to give up travel recreation," said AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson. "Our survey indicates people will not cancel their plans, but they may take shorter trips, take fewer driving vacations and use more fuel-efficient vehicles."

AAA said it expects the travel trend to continue.

"With consumer and traveler confidence both up compared to a year ago, many Americans will pay the higher gas prices and scratch their travel itch this holiday and this summer," said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes.

What that means is, they may end up in the Sawtooth National Forest, where facilities are opening faster than in typical springs.

Ketchum Ranger District personnel report that the snow level is at about 9,000 feet in the Smoky, Boulder and Pioneer mountains.

Most the district trails and roads are open, including the county road over Trail Creek Summit. However, expect patches of snow at higher elevations on northern exposures. District visitors are asked to avoid roads and trails that are wet and muddy until the surface has dried.

Ketchum District campgrounds open for the holiday weekend include Boundary, Sawmill, Federal Gulch and Copper Creek. Water is available only at Boundary Campground.

A wide variety of recreation facilities will be available on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Services and fees are in effect at the Murdock, Caribou, North Fork and Wood River Campgrounds along the northern Big Wood River.

On the other side of the Galena Summit, Stanley Lake Inlet and Stanley Lake campgrounds are offering services. Iron Creek, Elk Creek, Sheep Trail, Trap Creek and Grandjean campgrounds are open, have no services and are free.

The Glacier View Campground at Redfish Lake is open with services and fees in effect. Sunny Gulch Campground is closed to ongoing, major reconstruction work. Smokey Bear (Alturas Lake) and Pettit Lake are open, but without services and no fees.

Open campgrounds along the Salmon River corridor, down river from Stanley, include Basin Creek, Upper O’Brien, Whiskey-Slate Creek, Holman Creek and Mormon Bend. There are no fees being charged at these facilities and no services provided.

Most SNRA roads and trails are open. It is suggested that visitors check with the SNRA headquarters visitor center or the SNRA Stanley office regarding road and trail closures.

The Fisher Creek Loop Trail is still closed due to snow. Hell Roaring Lake Trail is snow free, but there are some trees down. The North Fork of the Big Wood trails, including Murdock Creek, East Fork of the North Fork, West Fork of the North Fork and the main North Fork all provide nice 3 to 4 mile, one-way, hikes. Boundary Creek Trail is dry to a high ridge, which is a steep hike, but it offers a beautiful view of the Sawtooth Mountains.

All of the campgrounds on the Fairfield Ranger District will be open with full services and fees in effect.

The Couch Summit, Fleck Summit and Wells Summit roads are also open. The Salt Bowns Road and Dollarhide Summit remain closed by snow. The snow level on the Fairfield Ranger District is between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, with drifts above 6,000 feet on northern exposures.


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