Friday, May 22, 2015

Visitors Should Expect Wet, Snowy Conditions and Closed Roads on National Forests This Weekend

Memorial Day weekend brings many visitors to the Roosevelt and Arapaho National Forests west of Boulder and Denver. While this holiday weekend is traditionally the kick-off to the camping season, please be aware that snow lingers and continues to accumulate at the higher elevations. Spring rains and snowmelt have made some roads too snowy, wet and muddy for driving. Even lower elevation hiking trails may have mud and snow patches. Many higher elevation trails will remain snow packed until later in June.

Four campgrounds near Boulder are open: Kelly Dahl, Camp Dick, Peaceful Valley and Olive Ridge. Although many campsites are already booked, first come, first served spots are available at these campgrounds. Meeker Park Campground is scheduled to open June 12. Rainbow Lakes and Pawnee Campgrounds will not open until later in June. For a full list of campgrounds and opening dates please click here.

Three campgrounds off Highway 119 (Peak to Peak) are open: Cold Springs, Columbine and Pickle Gulch Group Campground. Although many campsites are already booked, Cold Springs and Columbine have some first come, first served spots. Water is not yet available at any of these campgrounds. West Chicago Creek Campground will not open this weekend due to snow and is tentatively scheduled to open May 28. The higher elevation campgrounds of Clear Lake, Guanella Pass and Echo Lake open in June. For a full list of campgrounds and opening dates please click here.

Eight National Forest campgrounds in Grand County will be open for Memorial Day weekend, including all five campgrounds in the Arapaho National Recreation Area. In the Winter Park/Fraser area, St. Louis Creek and Idlewild campgrounds will open Friday. Denver Creek Campground on Colo. Highway 125 will also be open. Water may not be available in all campgrounds, so be sure to call ahead or check here.

Most National Forest System roads west of Boulder remain closed due to mud or snow. This includes motorized access into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. This road is not scheduled to open until June 12. This also includes the road to Mount Evans. For more information on the status of Mount Evans, visit the Colorado Department of Transportation website. Forest visitors should note that the Boulder area still has road and trail closures due to flood damage. Detailed information can be found online here. According to the Sulphur Ranger District's Motor Vehicle Use Map, which can be found online, the majority of National Forest roads become available for use around June 15, if conditions allow.

Be cautious when driving down forest roads. Turn around if the road becomes muddy or snow packed. This spring, visitors should check the latest road information before heading out.

Lower elevation hiking, including trails located along and east of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (Highways 119, 72 and 7), have mud and snow patches. Most trails west of these routes will remain snow packed until later in June

The trails around Monarch Lake make a very popular loop hike in the early season. Portions of those trails, as well as many others on the district, are still snowy or muddy, so if you plan to hike the entire loop, be sure to wear appropriate footwear.

The Idaho Springs visitor center is open seven days a week with summer hours starting Memorial Day Weekend from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call the Visitor Center at 303-567-4382 for more information.

Grand Teton Hiking

No comments: