The Forest is Open with some Recreation Limitations Over the Memorial Day Weekend

McCall, Idaho, May 21, 2020 – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Payette National Forest has remained open for public use with only a few closures having been put in place.  As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, these closures have been rescinded, and only a group size limit of 10 people or less is in place in accordance with Rebound Idaho and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing protocols.

As snow has only recently melted at the 5000 foot elevation level and snow remains at higher elevations, many of our campgrounds are not yet open for the season.  On an annual basis, most of the Payette National Forest campgrounds open in late May and into early June as access to our campgrounds becomes available, recreation crews are preforming annual maintenance and repairs.

“While we understand there is excitement from the public to return to beloved recreation areas, with Memorial Day coming early this year, please bear with us as we prepare our campgrounds for opening, and please continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on staying safe,” said Linda Jackson, Payette National Forest Supervisor. “There is work to be done – ensuring cleanliness of facilities, conducting proper maintenance, and assessing campground for health and safety. We anticipate some campground openings may take additional time.”

Dispersed camping opportunities and trail use are available throughout the Payette National Forest in areas that are accessible without snow.  Visitors should come with all the essentials, including food, emergency supplies, and resources to pack-out trash.  The Forest Service is asking visitors to recreate locally and responsibly, as this will help prevent the capacity of areas to accommodate visitors from being exceeded.  Rainy weather is forecasted over much of the Forest for the next several days and nighttime temperatures are reaching into the low to mid 30s, so plan accordingly.  Sunshine may appear over the weekend, but roads and camping sites may be muddy.

Campgrounds:

Council, Weiser, McCall and New Meadows Ranger Districts:  Developed campgrounds on these districts will not be open for Memorial Day weekend and campground gates, where they exist, will remain closed.  Higher elevation campgrounds are not yet accessible due to snow.  Those campgrounds that are accessible are not open because cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for adequately cleaning restroom facilities have been difficult to obtain.  Most restroom facilities across the districts are either not accessible or are not currently being maintained or stocked, and potable drinking water and trash removal services are not available. 

Krassel Ranger District:  All developed campgrounds on the Krassel Ranger District are open and available for the Memorial Day weekend.  Due to limitations of personnel and appropriate PPE, some amenities, such as potable water, or fully stocked and open restrooms may not be fully available in all campgrounds.  Fees will be charged as posted in each campground.  Due to the popularity of many of the South Fork Salmon River campgrounds, visitor use over the previous two weekends has been abnormally high. Users may encounter limited site availability within developed campgrounds and may want to seek dispersed camping opportunities. Please practice Pack It In, Pack It Out, and leave your campsite better than you found it.

Road Access:  Valley County is in the process of plowing open Warren Wagon Road.  Lick Creek Road and Profile Gap will not be open by the County for Memorial Day weekend - for more information, contact the Valley County Road Department.  Adams County has opened Goose Lake Road to just past Brundage Mountain Resort, but will not be plowing further for the Memorial Road weekend - for more information contact the Adams County Road Department.

For the latest information on Forest conditions, please contact the Forest supervisor's Office at 208-634-0700; the McCall Ranger District at 208-634-0400; the News Meadows Ranger District at 208-347-0300; and the Council and Weiser Ranger Districts at 208-253-0100.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/payette/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD743646