HAMILTON - Bitterroot National Forest officials are offering up some things to keep in mind so that everyone can enjoy the long 4th of July holiday.
A few considerations to think about:
- Fireworks are not permitted on all National Forests year-round. No fireworks of any kind may be discharged anywhere within the Bitterroot National Forest, regardless of weather conditions or holidays. Please leave them at home. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or six months in jail. Anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable for suppression costs which can be substantial.
- All campgrounds on the Forest are open and ready for visitors. Campgrounds fill up quickly. For a complete list of campgrounds and to determine if your favorite campground is one in which you can reserve a site, visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot and click on the Visit Us pull-down menu and select Recreation.
- Campgrounds must be occupied the first night. Most campgrounds are first come, first served. Sites must be occupied the first night; no setting out chairs or coolers days before actually occupying the campsite.
- Never leave a campfire unattended and make sure your coals are cool to the touch before you leave. One spark is all it takes to start a wildfire.
- Be prepared for changing weather conditions including the predicted afternoon thunderstorms.
- Expect heavier traffic than normal on forest roads and trails over the holiday. Drive defensively and notify us of any downed trees or road damage so repairs can be made. Some trails and roads may not be open at higher elevations due to snow, high water, washouts, or trees that have fallen. Please stay on the trails and roads and do not create new trails to get around hazards.
- Pack it In–Pack it Out is the best practice for all of your garbage. The message is simple: whatever you bring in, you are responsible for bringing it out.
- Be cautious around flowing waters and especially at creek crossings.
A reminder for those heading to Lake Como, you will need a recreation pass for parking. Passes are $5/vehicle or $30 for a season pass and are available at all Forest Service offices, as well as at area retailers including Mr. T’s and People’s Market in Darby, Angler’s Roost, Lone Pine and Riverside Conoco, Town Pump South, and Bob Ward’s in Hamilton, and on-site at the recreation area. Day use fees and camping fees are charged at Lake Como from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. The fees are used for the operations and maintenance of the recreation area. Drinking water is available at Lake Como.
There have been recent reports of bear activity at Como and Rombo campgrounds. With the arrival of summer, it’s important to secure all unattended food and attractants and always keep a clean camp. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of odors, avoid cooking smelly foods, and don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking. For more information about recreating safely in bear country visit www.bebearaware.org.
Lost Horse Road #429 on the Darby/Sula Ranger District is closed six miles from the junction with the 5621 road and will remain closed until the snow melts and road conditions dry out to do the necessary repairs. Schumaker Campground, Twin Lakes, Bear Creek Pass and Bear Creek Trailheads are not open. Camping and recreation areas along the lower stretches of Lost Horse are open.
The Magruder Road Corridor between Darby, and Elk City, Idaho is still inaccessible due to snow between Kim Creek Saddle and Observation Point. Nez Perce Pass is open to Paradise Campground. Contact the West Fork Ranger District for road updates. Magruder Road is suitable for high-clearance vehicles only. Travelers are advised to carry a chainsaw in case of a fallen tree on the road and should be aware that there is no cell phone coverage or services for 120 miles.
Gird Point Road #714 is open to Gird Lookout. Funding to fix the road was provided by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The Buckhorn project, a Good Neighbor Authority project partnered with The Department of Natural Resources, is an active logging project along the road. Please use caution as heavy equipment and logging trucks will be using the road.
You may see Bitterroot National Forest employees conducting National Visitor Use Monitoring Surveys in recreation sites and along Forest Service roads. They will be wearing bright orange vests and be near a sign that says “Survey Ahead”. Although the survey is voluntary, people are encouraged to participate. More information about the National Visitor Use Monitoring program can be found at https://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum.
US Forest Service offices will be closed on Monday, July 4 in observance of the federal holiday. People should call local ranger stations ahead of time to obtain a firewood permit, request forest maps, or ask any questions before visiting the forest. Regular office hours resume Tuesday, July 5.
Bitterroot National Forest
- West Fork Ranger District: 406-821-3269
- Darby/Sula Ranger District: 406-821-3913
- Stevensville Ranger District: 406-777-5461
- Supervisor’s Office - Hamilton: 406-363-7100