Seasonal gate & road closure schedule for Idaho City Ranger District (ICRD)


Gates open June 15
Gates close Sept. 15

(If closures fall on a weekend or holiday, the closures will occur the following workday)


The purpose for the seasonal closures behind the ICRD is twofold.

  1. The primary reason is wildlife
  2. Roads themselves

Wildlife: Depending on where you live, you’ve probably been fortunate enough to observe the activity of elk, deer, moose, bear, antelope, fox and maybe even bobcat on Forest Service lands. Winter is a tough time for all these animals, especially big game species including elk, deer, antelope and moose. In the fall, big game species engage in breeding, and gradually migrate to their winter ranges. This activity alone creates stress on the animals. Traffic on road systems during this time increases the chance of disturbance and mortality rates. Concurrently, hunting season adds additional stress to animals that are pressured to move in harsh weather conditions to evade hunters. The Forest Plan standard for wintering wildlife is to have less stress for better survival.


Other important activities taking place on the Forest during seasonal closures include: fawning, calving, denning and hatching of all sorts. Spring is when wildlife starts to “surf the green wave” as they follow the snow melt and eat the spring green up as it moves to higher elevations. When the month of April arrives, big game animals try to replenish as much fat as possible in anticipation of birth, which starts in May. While not all wildlife will avoid roads, they try to birth young away from human disturbances. These closures keep the amount of contact animals have to a minimum, so mothers and young can have peace during this time. By mid-June, all these activities should be finished, and the young are able to move to new areas or migrate even farther into the mountains.


A photo of an Elk - Idaho City gate closures
Elk calf and mother on U.S.Forest Service lands



Roads: Road closures are to protect resources themselves from rutting and damage caused during “mud season” and spring runoff. When the rain and snow start hitting the roads, added stressors of motor vehicle traffic and people can cause damage to streams, soil and the overall health of the watershed, which is a vital resource for animals and humans alike. Roads are also seasonally closed to prevent people from getting stuck in their vehicles in deep snow.


Photo of vehicle in mud - resource damage

Resource damage to Forest Service road during spring runoff



While it can be inconvenient to be restricted from driving on or using roads whenever we want, there are good reasons for closures. As a national federal agency mandated to manage natural resources for the greatest good, the Forest Service is trying to do the right thing. As human pressure on wild places increases, it becomes more important to consider and care for all parts of the ecosystem.


Adapted from South Park Ranger District “Making Sense of Forest Service (FS) Travel Management”