Bitterroot Forest Welcomes Memorial Day Weekend
Some of the Memorial Day weekend tips from the Bitterroot National Forest are different this year. The traditional opening kickoff of summer camping comes with it some incredibly sharp weather changes, as spring and winter seasons seem to still be fighting for dominance.
The temperatures are starting to warm during the days, but the nights in the mountains are very cold. Tod McKay of the Bitterroot Forest said that with lots of snow still melting in the high country, water is still filling the streams. They're running fast and high. Please be cautious around the streambanks and on any creek crossings.
The black bears are visiting the developed recreation sites, and they're always hungry. Keep a clean camp and store your food to reduce attracting the animals. Speaking of animals, be aware of those little ticks. The tick season is still happening and the little bloodsuckers can attach to you when you least expect it. A "tick check" is a good idea after any hike in the woods.
Many forest service roads are still soft and muddy. Turn around. And if you drive around snowbanks off the road, you can do damage to the route. Instead, let the Forest Service know about the road conditions, especially if you come across a flooded road or a blocked culvert. Motor Vehicle Use maps are available at the Bitterroot National Forest website.
People have discovered the Bitterroot Valley. Expect heavier amounts of traffic this weekend (and throughout the summer, for that matter.) A little patience and driving defensively will help.
Bring along your own drinking water. Some campground water systems have not yet been turned on. Also, if you have some trash - "pack it in, pack it out." Some of the campgrounds are not yet open and others are only available by reservations. Check with any Bitterroot National Forest office for information - Bitterroot Supervisors Office in Hamilton, Stevensville Ranger Station, Darby-Sula Ranger Station and West Fork Ranger Station.
As of Saturday, May 28, the Day Use fees are in effect for the summer at Lake Como. It's $5 per car per day. Get a $30 season pass if you're planning a few trips to the lake. The Season Pass is good through Labor Day weekend.
Road closures - Nez Perce Pass, Skalkaho Pass, and most of the upper part of Lost Horse Road. If you want to reserve campgrounds, check the national site. We'll have more about the campgrounds later this week.