Memorial Weekend on the Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forests

Release Date: May 19, 2014  

Snow-laden landscapes are giving way to green grass and wildflowers – a sure sign that spring has finally arrived.  An early season getaway to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is the perfect way to celebrate the long Memorial Day Weekend.

Campsites

Most campgrounds offer first-come, first-served site selection, although you can reserve campsites at a few campgrounds managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Contact your local Forest Service office for a list of local campgrounds that accept reservations.

To reserve a campsite, call Recreation.gov at 1­ (877) 444-6777, or visit:  http://www.recreation.gov/.  Reservations should be made at least four days in advance.

Visitors can camp at sites outside developed campgrounds called “dispersed sites.” However, campers who choose to stay in undeveloped sites should take extra care to protect natural resources, such as plant life. If you camp at a dispersed site, leave no trace of your stay. Use existing fire rings if available, and pack out your trash.

Three of the four developed campgrounds on the Palouse Ranger District - Laird Park, Little Boulder and Giant White Pine - are open, and all standard campground amenities are available. The Elk Creek Campground, near the town of Elk River, is open and features 23 sites with electrical hookups; some sites can be reserved.  All other campgrounds are open. 

There is no trash service at any of the four campgrounds on the Palouse District, so please take your refuse with you when you leave.

You can reserve group picnic areas at Little Boulder and Laird Park Campgrounds, as well as the pavilion at Elk Creek Campground, by calling the Potlatch Ranger Station at (208) 875-1131.

On the North Fork Ranger District, Aquarius Campground and Noe Creek Campground will open on Friday, May 23, just in time to welcome holiday visitors. Three popular campgrounds will remain closed through Memorial Day weekend: The Washington Creek and Kelly Forks Campgrounds are scheduled to open Friday, June 6, and Hidden Creek Campground is expected to open June 13.

If you’re looking for a shady campsite on the shores of the Lochsa River, you’re in luck; all campgrounds on the Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, including Wilderness Gateway and Powell Campgrounds, will open by May 23.  Wendover and Whitehouse Campgrounds are slated to open on June 6.  Elk Summit Campground will not be accessible until sometime late June or July, when Elk Summit Road 360 melts outs.  Jerry Johnson Campground will remain closed to overnight camping all summer, and Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is open for day use only from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Water systems have been turned on and tested at Wild Goose, Apgar, Wilderness Gateway, Wendover, Whitehouse, Powell, and White Sands Campgrounds.  Campers will have to bring water if they plan to stay at other Lochsa River sites.

On the Moose Creek Ranger District, all of the campgrounds that flank the beautiful “Wild and Scenic” Selway River are open. Johnson Bar has potable water.  Recreation staff is working on getting water systems turned on at O’Hara Campground before the weekend. Campers are welcome to fill water jugs at the Fenn Visitor Center.

Fee campgrounds situated along the South Fork Clearwater River, including Castle Creek Campground and South Fork Campground, are open and potable water is available. Spring Bar Campground, located along the Salmon River, is open, with potable water available. Fish Creek Campground, located seven miles south of Grangeville, is open for the summer season and water should be available by May 24.

On the Red River Ranger District, potable water will not be available at Red River Campground, so the water should be boiled before consumption.  No RV dump site at Red River yet – plans are to have it in place by later this summer. 

River and Stream Conditions

River levels are predicted to be high and the water cold for Memorial Day Weekend.  Boaters are encouraged to use caution and wear personal floatation devices and helmets while on the water.

Roads and Trails

For your safety and to prevent damage to the land, stay on roads and trails and avoid those that are too wet or muddy. Spring break-up can wreak havoc on roads.

Check with local ranger stations for recommended trails before planning your favorite hike, horseback ride or ATV adventure. For the most up-to-date information on road conditions and trail status, please visit  http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices.

Trails:

On the Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, trails are starting to clear of snow to roughly 3500’ in elevation although, in the deep woods, snow can still be found at 5000’.  Visitors hiking Forest trails over Memorial Day weekend should be aware that they might encounter downed trees, rocks, flooded trails, or other hazards.

Trail crews are just beginning to open trails on the Powell, Lochsa, and Moose Creek Ranger Districts.  Selway River Trail #4 and Meadow Creek Trail #726, between the trailhead at Slims Camp and Meadow Creek Cabin, are open and are good destinations Memorial Day hikers and stock users.

Most low-elevation trails on the North Fork Ranger District are open for the first two to three miles.

Trail users should always to yield to stock.

Off-highway vehicle users, note: ATVs and motorcycles driven on national forest roads and trails are subject to state of Idaho registration laws and requirements. Contact your local motor vehicle department or the state of Idaho Parks and Recreation website ( www.idahoparks.org/recreation) for a listing of registration sticker vendors and regulations. Also, please remember that all vehicles classed as UTVs (side-by-sides), regardless of weight or width, are not allowed on Forest trails.  

Roads:

On the North Fork Ranger District, French Mountain Road 250, from Pierce to Bungalow, remains closed due to snow.  Road 250 is open from Bungalow to one mile above Kelly Forks Work Center.  A large snow slide just south of Pete Ott Creek is barring traffic through Black Canyon.  Road 255 is open for about two miles east of the Kelly Forks Works Center.  A couple of deep slides above Jeanne Creek are preventing access to Deception Saddle.

Road 100 is open from Kamiah to Lolo Creek Campground.  Due to severe slumping and a broken road surface, part of the road has closed at Eldorado Creek, near the junction with Road 500.  Traffic will be detoured along Road 500, the Lolo Motorway, to Cedar Creek Road 520.  From there, travelers will make their way west on Road 5132, which junctions with Road 100 near Nevada Creek.

Road 100 from Pierce is open to the Bradford Bridge, but motorists will come across a six-mile-long detour prior to reaching the bridge.  The detour route is narrow and covered with debris in places, so drivers should proceed with care.  Despite the short distance, travel time may be as long as 45 minutes.  The route is not recommended for RVs or tow trailers. 

Road 103, Musselshell Meadows, is open for the first two miles from its junction with Road 100.

 Elk Meadows Road 373 and Granite Pass Road 595, near Lolo Pass on the Powell Ranger District, are starting to melt out, but neither road will open by Memorial Day.

Most of the roads on the Salmon River and Red River Ranger Districts are open for a few miles before snow impedes travel. Memorial Day drivers should contact their local Forest office for updated road information. Conditions can change rapidly.

The Magruder Road Corridor (Road 468) between Elk City and Darby, Montana, remains closed by snow.

Visitor Centers

There are a handful of places you can stop for information, firewood permits, mushroom permits and mapswhile visiting the Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forests. All Forest Service offices will close Monday, May 26 in observance of Memorial Day.

The historic Fenn Ranger Station, located just a few short miles from US Highway 12 near Lowell, is on the National Register for Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour highlights this beautifully landscaped, working historic ranger station built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The Fenn Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday

The Lolo Pass Visitor Center on Highway 12 at the Idaho-Montana state line will be closed Wednesday and Thursday of Memorial Day week.  Hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.  Beginning June 1, the Visitor Center will be open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) each day.

Forty-eight miles east of Kooskia, along Highway 12, stop by the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Beginning May 22nd, the station will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week.  Forest Service volunteers host the site and are happy to answer your questions about what life was like on remote ranger stations in days gone by.

 For Information

For more road and trail information and updates, call the Supervisor’s Office in Kamiah at (208) 935-2513, the Grangeville Office at (208) 983-1950 or the North Fork Ranger District Office at (208) 476-8267. You’re also invited to check online at  http://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater.





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