Many government-owned campgrounds in eastern Washington and northern Idaho will be opening later than usual because of heavy snow and a cold spring, U.S. Forest Service officials say.
“We can’t even get to some of the sites,” said Andy Boggs, recreation operations manager for the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
Some sites may not be open by Memorial Day, the traditional start of the heavy camping season in the Pacific Northwest, and snowdrifts could block access to lookout tower rentals well into July, according to The Wenatchee World Online, Wenatchee, Wash.
“It’s a little early to tell, but we’re still getting more snow,” Greg Hetzler, a resource forester in Sandpoint, Idaho, told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane.
Roads to many destinations in the Idaho Panhandle forests remain impassable. Windy Ridge at the top of Fernan Creek, a gateway to the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District, had 12 feet of snow last week, four times the typical amount for this time of year.
“To think the snow would all melt in the next month and a half is pretty optimistic,” Hetzler said.
In the Colville National Forest, roads to Leo, Gillette, Davis and Trout lakes remain closed because of deep snow and weren’t plowed in time for the start of the fishing season last weekend, said Donna Nemeth, a forest spokeswoman.
“If we have two solid weeks of sunshine, we may to able to open all of the campgrounds by Memorial Day,” Nemeth said. “We’re really encouraging people to call ahead before they drive out here in their campers.”
The outlook is better for state parks and lower-elevation federal campgrounds.
Riverside State Park west of Spokane will be open for the three-day weekend, and Heyburn and Farragut state parks in Idaho will have campsites available earlier.
All campgrounds in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in eastern Washington will be open for Memorial Day.