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Recreational Opportunities for Memorial Day on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Release from US Forest Service, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
May 25, 2024

KAMIAH— The upcoming Memorial Day weekend provides a great opportunity to enjoy the numerous recreational opportunities available in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. This updated information should help you plan a memorable visit this holiday season. Please be advised that all Forest Service offices on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests will be closed on Memorial Day, May 27, 2024.

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Summary: All campgrounds on Highway 12, the Palouse District, and the South Fork Clearwater are open for public use. Most campgrounds on the North Fork Clearwater and Red River Ranger District are open to the public. Trail maintenance is occurring, but downed trees and muddy areas should be expected. Roads in the high country, such as the Magruder Corridor remain closed due to snow. Trails also remain snow-covered in major parts of the Forests and visitors are advised to avail themselves of lower elevation options.

Camping and Trails
Most campgrounds on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests offer first-come, first-served site selection, although you can reserve campsites at a few campgrounds managed by the forest. 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 www.Recreation.gov. Reservations should be made at least four days in advance. Visitors can also camp in areas outside of developed campgrounds, called “dispersed sites.” However, campers who choose to stay in dispersed sites should take extra care to protect natural resources such as vegetation. If you camp at a dispersed site, leave no trace of your stay. Use existing fire rings if available and pack out your trash.

Numerous trails on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are currently available for use by forest visitors. Please consider hazards involved with hiking before heading out on the trail, such as uneven terrain and steep grades. Hazards such as falling trees, rolling logs and rocks, poor tread, and holes from burned-out stumps are evident in places recently impacted by fire. Make appropriate safety considerations before heading out, which may include changing your travel plans. Be aware that conditions can change very quickly.

PALOUSE RANGER DISTRICT: All campgrounds on the Palouse Ranger District are now open. Laird Park, Little Boulder, and Giant White Pine Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Elk Creek Campground, near the town of Elk River, features 23 sites with electrical hookups; a portion of these campground sites can be reserved through Recreation.gov. Water is available at all campgrounds on the Palouse Ranger District except for Elk Creek, where water is anticipated to be turned on by the end of the month. Snowpack has been light this year on the
Palouse, so trails are dryer and more accessible than in past years. This early in the season, visitors should anticipate the possibility of fallen trees across trails.

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.

NORTH FORK RANGER DISTRICT:  Aquarius Purple Beach, Washington Creek, Weitas, and Noe Creek campgrounds will be open for Memorial Day. Kelly Forks Campground may also be open. No water is yet available at the campgrounds pending testing. Campers are advised to bring their own drinking water. Most trails on the North Fork Ranger District are currently inaccessible due to snow and downed trees.

LOCHSA/POWELL RANGER DISTRICT: All campgrounds on the Lochsa/Powell Ranger District are currently open except for Jerry Johnson and Elk Summit. Recreation crews will attempt to open Jerry Johnson Campground later this season if major brushing projects can be completed. Elk Summit will open as soon as snow levels allow access. Campgrounds currently offering potable water include Powell, Whitehouse, Wilderness Gateway, Apgar, and Wild Goose. Reservations can be made at Powell and Wilderness Gateway. Beginning July 1st , volunteer hosts will be onsite at Elk Summit Campground daily. Recreation Managers are still accepting applications for campground hosts in Powell and Wilderness Gateway (Visit Volunteer.Gov for more information).

MOOSE CREEK RANGER DISTRICT: All campgrounds on the Moose Creek Ranger District are open. Reservations can be made for Johnson Bar Group site and O’Hara Campground. Potable water is available at Johnson Bar Campground and Cedar Flats Dump Station. The water system in O’Hara Campground is down until further notice pending maintenance. A volunteer camp host is on site at O’Hara Thursday – Monday.

SALMON RIVER RANGER DISTRICT:  All campgrounds and day-use areas located along the South Fork of the Clearwater River are open, including Castle Creek and South Fork Campgrounds, which are fee sites and have potable water available. Our friendly campground host is onsite and available to help you settle in! All campgrounds and day-use areas located along the Salmon River are open, including Spring Bar Campground, which is a fee site and has potable water available. Camp 58 Campground (McComas Meadows) is accessible via the 244 road and provides great camping opportunities this time of year. Fish Creek Campground is still partially snow covered, however the pavilion area is snow free as well as the trailhead parking lot.

Several of our most popular trails on the district, including Rapid River Trail, located along the Salmon River, and Johns Creek Trail, located along the South Fork of the Clearwater River, are open. Many other trails located on the Salmon River and South Fork of the Clearwater River are open and offer early season hiking opportunities due to their relatively low elevation.

RED RIVER RANGER DISTRICT: Legget Creek, Newsome, Sing Lee, Crooked River 3 and 4, Five Mile Pond, Orogrande 1 and 2 are open but are lacking some amenities due to recovery from the Williams Fire, Red River, Trapper Creek, are open. Many Forest Service roads on the Red River Ranger District are still closed due to snow. The Magruder Road Corridor (Forest Service road 468) between Elk City, Idaho and Darby, Montana is continuing to receive snowfall and is not currently open to through travel.

Roads
Road condition reports and road closure notices can be found on our website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices. Construction on highway 12 from the milepost 121.4 to milepost 130.3 may impact travel with delays of up to 30 minutes anticipated during the day. Please contact the Ranger District where you plan to travel for the latest updates on road conditions. Currently, a closure order is in effect for National Forest Service Road (NFSR) 680 is closed from the Forest Service boundary to Sheep Saddle and the JCT with NFSR 681 and NFSR 681 is closed from Sheep Saddle to Swanson Saddle.

Off-highway vehicle users, please note that 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 (http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/) 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.

Visitor Centers
The Lolo Pass Visitor Center, located on Highway 12 at the Idaho-Montana state line, is currently open Thursday – Monday. Come to Packer Meadows May 31st  – June 2nd  from 10:00a.m. – 3p.m. (PST) for our Annual Camas in Bloom Event. Indigenous interpreters will share traditional ecological knowledge about the camas plants in this area. Find more information on upcoming events at: https://www.facebook.com/Discover-Your-Northwest-Lolo-Pass-Visitor-Center-278605048836443/. Visitor Center hours of operation are 8:30a.m. to 4:00p.m (PST).

The Lochsa Historical Ranger Station, located along Highway 12, 48 miles east of Kooskia, Idaho, will be open to visitors over Memorial Day weekend. The Station will close for the month of June as the Region 1 Historic Preservation Crew continues important preservation work. Beginning July 4th , Lochsa Historical Ranger Station will be open from 9a.m. to 5p.m.(PST) until September 8th. Volunteer hosts will be on site and happy to answer questions about what life was like at remote ranger stations in days gone by.

More Information
For more information about activities on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, please contact your local Forest Service office or visit our website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater. Our website provides information about campgrounds, road and trail conditions, and contact information for your local Forest Service office.
Trail Conditions Reports: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nezperceclearwater/home/?cid=fseprd506117
Alerts & Notices, including Road Conditions: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices
Contact Information for Local Offices: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nezperceclearwater/about-forest/offices

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