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Bitterroot National Forest prepares for Memorial Day weekend

Bitterroot National Forest HQ
Posted at 1:12 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 17:37:23-04

HAMILTON — Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional kickoff of the summer season.

The 1.6 million acre Bitterroot National Forest offers recreational opportunities including nearly 250 campsites in 26 campgrounds, hiking on more than 1,800 miles of trails, boating, biking, horseback riding and more.

Forest officials hope visitors will incorporate the following safety tips, along with the status of campgrounds, trails and roads, into their adventures during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Key Safety Messages:

  • Due to COVID-19, visitors are asked to stay as local as possible when choosing a site to visit and to pack out everything they bring, especially trash.
  • Please remember to avoid congregating at trailheads and/or parking areas and refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more. Visitors are also urged to take precautions recommended by the CDC along with local health and safety guidance.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Temperatures at night are still cool and isolated showers are in the forecast.
  • Many campgrounds and hiking trails are located near streams that are running extremely fast and high. Please be cautious around flowing waters and especially at creek crossings.
  • Expect heavier traffic than normal on forest roads and trails over the holiday weekend. Drive defensively and notify the Forest Service of any flooding conditions, plugged culverts, downed trees or road damage, so repairs can be made.
  • Stay away from soft and muddy roads as this is unsafe and can damage the roadbed, leading to expensive repairs. Driving around snow drifts can damage vegetation and soil.
  • Please stay on designated routes. Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) are available at all Bitterroot National Forest offices and online. The maps show designated routes for motorized recreation users.
  • Bring potable drinking water as some campground water systems have not been opened yet.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended and make sure your coals are cool to the touch before you leave.
  • Be extremely careful when traveling and camping around areas of dead trees including burned areas or beetle killed patches.
  • Contact your local Forest Service office to find out if your favorite campground is open. See list below of campgrounds/recreation sites. Certain services may still be unavailable, so visitors are asked to plan accordingly and remain flexible. Please contact the appropriate Ranger District for the latest updates and conditions.

Darby/Sula Ranger District – (406) 821-3913

Lake Como Recreation Area

  • Lower Como Campground: Opening May 22 with 11 pull-through sites, water, electrical, accessible toilets, and garbage service. No reservations - first-come, first-served site selection. $16/night.
  • Three Frogs Campground: Currently closed, tentative opening date is June 15.
  • Lake Como Picnic Area and Trailhead: Open
  • Lake Como Beach: Open. Swim lines installed after Memorial Day.
  • Lake Como Boat Launch: Open. Dock will tentatively be installed by May 29; call the Darby District for updates.
  • Rock Creek Horse Camp: Open with 11 campsites, hitch rails, feed troughs, accessible toilets and garbage service; no water. No reservations - first-come, first-served. $8/night.
  • Three Sisters Group Site: Currently closed, tentative opening date is June 1.
  • Woods Cabin: To reserve the cabin visit the National Recreation Reservation System or call 1-877-444-6777.

Recreation Passes – Day Use Fees: Required beginning Saturday, May 23. Cost of the passes are $5/vehicle or $30 for a season pass and are available at area retailers: Mr. T’s and People’s Market in Darby; Angler’s Roost, Lone Pine, Town Pump South, Bob Ward’s, Riverside in Hamilton. Day passes are also available on-site at the recreation area. Day use fees are charged at Lake Como from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

  • Black Bear Campground - Open with 6 campsites and accessible toilet. No water. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations. First-come, first-served.
  • Skalkaho Pass (State Highway 38) is currently closed. For the latest road information visit www.mdt.mt.gov or Dial 511.
  • Lost Horse Road is only accessible six miles beyond the intersection with Lick Creek Road. The road is closed to motorized beyond the gate due to soft road conditions and snow at higher elevations.
  • Spring Gulch Campground – Currently closed due to spring flooding on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River. Contact the Ranger District for latest conditions and reopening updates.
  • Indian Trees Campground – Opening May 22 with 15 campsites, water, garbage, and accessible toilet. Camp host on site. $10/night. To reserve campsites visit www.recreation.gov
  • Warm Springs Campground – Opening May 22 with 11 campsites, garbage, and accessible toilet. No reservations – first come, first-served site selection. $8/night.
  • Martin Creek Campground - Open with 7 campsites, water and accessible toilet. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served site selection. $8/night.
  • Jennings Campground - Open with 4 campsites and accessible toilet. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served site selection.
  • Crazy Creek Campground – Opening May 22 with 7 campsites, water and accessible toilet. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served site selection. $8/night.
  • Crazy Creek Horse Camp – Open with 7 campsites and accessible toilet. No water. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served.

Stevensville Ranger District: (406) 777-5461

Bass Creek Recreation Area

  • Charles Waters Campground – Opening May 22 with 26 campsites, and accessible toilet. Camp host on site. Potable water and trash services available. No reservations – first-come, first-served site selection. $10/night.
  • Larry Creek Group Camp - Available for reservation through the National Recreation Reservation System - www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
  • Blodgett Campground – Opening May 22nd with 5 campsites and accessible toilet. No water, ‘pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. Camp host on site. No reservations – first come, first-served site selection.
  • Gold Creek Campground – Open with 5 campsites and accessible toilet. No water, ‘pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first come, first served site selection.

West Fork Ranger District: (406) 821-3269

  • Rombo Campground – Opening May 22 with 13 campsites, *water, garbage, and accessible toilet. Camp host on site. To reserve campsites visit www.recreation.gov . *Drinking water will not be available throughout the campground. Water will be available at one location at the entrance of the campground. We are working on replacing the water system. $8/night.
  • Alta Campground – Opening May 22 with 14 campsites, water, garbage, and accessible toilet. Camp host on site. To reserve campsites visit www.recreation.gov. $8/night.
  • Sam Billings Campground – Open with 12 campsites and accessible toilet. No water. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served.
  • Slate Creek Campground – Front loop is currently open. Check with Ranger District for latest conditions on the back loop. No water. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations – first-come, first-served.
  • Fales Flat Campground – Open with 3 campsites and accessible toilet. No water. ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ garbage. No reservations in the campground - first-come, first-served. To reserve the group site visit www.recreation.gov
  • Nez Perce Pass to Paradise Campground. Open, but single lane travel only and packed snow near Nez Perce Pass. Four wheel drive recommended. Contact the West Fork District for latest road updates for Magruder Road Corridor to Paradise.

There is a 16-day stay limit for the Bitterroot National Forest - except for the portion of the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho.

A Food Storage Order is also in place for the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, located on the Bitterroot and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests. The purpose of the food storage order is to minimize adverse interactions between bears and humans.

The Bitterroot National Forest offers visitors a unique recreational experience at rental cabins and lookouts. There are three rental lookouts that provide stunning views of the Sapphire, Bitterroot, and Anaconda Pintler mountain ranges. Four rustic cabins offer a serene and relaxing getaway. Reservations can be made six months in advance at www.recreation.gov.

Please be aware that rentals and lookouts will not be cleaned in between use. As in previous years, it is up to the individual renters to bring their own cleaning supplies and to clean before and after use of the site.

Click here for more information about rentals, campgrounds, and road and trail updates.