NewsLocal NewsRavalli County


Bitterroot National Forest offers tips for Fourth of July visitors

Lake Como
Posted at 3:04 PM, Jul 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-03 17:55:40-04

HAMILTON — The Bitterroot National Forest is a great place to get away from the noise of fireworks and enjoy your 4th of July holiday.

A few considerations will help ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment:

  • 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 and click on the Recreation/Cabins and Camping sections.
  • 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. Forecasts are for a warm and dry 4th of July and visitors need to be fire safe. One spark is all it takes to start a wildfire. Fire Danger on the forest was raised from Low to Moderate last week.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions including the potential for 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.
  • Be cautious around flowing waters and especially at creek crossings.

The gate at Lost Horse Road #429 on the Darby/Sula Ranger District is open but please be advised that the road is rough and is not recommended for trailers or low clearance vehicles. Schumaker Campground and Bear Creek Pass are open, but with no services.

People heading to Lake Como for the holiday will need a recreation pass for parking. The passes cost $5 per vehicle or $30 for a season pass. They are available at all Forest Service offices, 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.

There have been recent reports of bear activity at several campgrounds. With the arrival of summer, remember that bears and other critters are out and about and it’s important to secure all unattended food and attractants and keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of odors, avoid cooking smelly foods and don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking. Click here for more information about recreating safely in bear country.

The Magruder Road Corridor between Darby and Elk City, Idaho is currently impassable one mile past Observation Point due to snow. Nez Perce Pass is open to Paradise Campground. Contact the West Fork Ranger District for road updates.

Road work on the Magruder Corridor between Kim Creek Saddle and Salmon Base Camp is scheduled to continue for the next three-to-four weeks. Crews are grinding the dirt road to remove deep ruts, washboards and large rocks. They are also installing surface drainage features including water bars, drivable dips, and 10 ditch relief culverts. No road closures are planned, but motorists could experience temporary delays throughout the work week from a few minutes to up to three hours during culvert installations.

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.

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