Thursday, May 22, 2014

High-elevation roads, campgrounds may be closed for Memorial Day; check snow level before you go

Riding to Kirkwood or Pittsburg Landing would be a good call this weekend ...
See this page for more information ... 
Typical scenario that you may encounter this weekend on high-elevation forest roads. 
Don't get stuck out there - you might end up with a costly towing bill. 
Fire closure area in the Ketchum Ranger District. (Click to enlarge)
Fire closure areas in Mountain Home Ranger District. (Click to enlarge)
Hi all,

Many trails, roads and campgrounds are open for Memorial Day at elevations below 6,500 to 7,000 feet in the southern Idaho, but the higher-elevation locations are likely to be covered with snow, according to national forest officials. Most camping locations, trails and roads should be open on Bureau of Land Management locations throughout southern Idaho because they are at lower-elevations.

In North Idaho, the snowmelt is going slower. The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest reported snow levels are at 3,500 to 5,000 feet in the Powell and Lochsa ranger district areas, and the Panhandle National Forests report snow levels at approximately 4,500 feet.

Here's a roundup of trail conditions from the Idaho's national forests ...

Boise National Forest - Visitors will experience deeper snow conditions on Memorial Day weekend compared with previous years. Water levels in rivers and streams are beginning to rise with the warmer spring temperatures although the snow melt has been slow. Most trails, roads and campgrounds will be open within the national forest with the exception of those above 6,000 feet.

“It is easy to think you can keep driving once you reach the snow line, but that snow typically just gets deeper,” said David Olson, Boise National Forest Public Affairs Officer. “Forest roads are not plowed and persons getting stuck have the strong potential for expensive tows or long walks to get help.”

Here's a link to the Boise road, trail and camping condition report

Payette National Forest - Snow levels are at about 6,500 feet. North of Payette Lake, you can reach Upper Payette Lake but Secesh Summit is closed by more than 2 feet of snow. That means you can't reach Burgdorf Hot Springs without a snowmmobile or skis. Lick Creek Road is closed by snow. Hazard Lake is not accessible either. Call local ranger districts for more information.

Sawtooth National ForestThe Sawtooth National Forest encourages everyone to get out this Memorial Day weekend and enjoy your National Forest. People planning on recreating on the Sawtooth National Forest over the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend will find a number of facilities open and operating, however, due to the lingering snowpack at the higher elevations, a number of roads and trails will be closed.
Snow levels are hovering at about 6,900 feet, depending on slope aspect.

We would like to remind visitors to avoid driving or riding on muddy roads and trails to avoid damaging the running surface. Please check with your local Forest Service office for current road and trail conditions.
Here's the link to the Sawtooth condition report

Caribou-Targhee National ForestSpringtime brings spectacular wildflowers, scenic drives, camping and long hikes.  Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the camping and recreating season in this part of the world. Before traveling to the forest, officials remind visitors to keep in mind the following information.
This year, the forest road and trail maintenance funds are still less than average compared to previous years.  Road maintenance will be improved over last but less than what we have experienced in the past.  The condition forest roads are in during springtime may very well be the condition they remain in all summer.

Please be aware of muddy conditions and do not travel in areas where the conditions are so muddy that ruts are created by your motor vehicles whether it is a bike or a car.  Do not drive around snowdrifts crossing the roads.

Here's a link to the Caribou-Targhee condition report

Salmon-Challis National Forest - Snow levels are at approximately 5,500 feet. The news release put out by the Salmon-Challis is about general camping information. Call ranger districts for more specific information. More information here

Nez Perce-Clearwater National ForestSnow-laden landscapes are giving way to green grass and wildflowers – a sure sign that spring has finally arrived. An early season getaway to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is the perfect way to celebrate the long Memorial Day Weekend. 

Snow levels are much lower than in southern Idaho - 4,000 to 5,000 feet in the Lochsa and Selway river areas. The Lolo Motorway, also known as the #500 Road, will not open until late June, forest officials said. 

Here's a link to the Nez Perce-Clearwater condition report

Panhandle National Forests - Snow level is at approximately 4,500 feet and up. Most campgrounds are open. High-elevations would be questionable. Low-elevation trails should be fine. Contact local ranger districts for site-specific conditions.  

See our Where to Ride page for specific ride ideas this weekend. See also Idaho Park & Recreation's interactive statewide trail map for researching trails, roads and loop rides.  

Ride safe and have fun! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Check on USFS road conditions before you go ... still lots of snow in elevations above 5,000 feet

Even if some roads are melted out, they're soft and wet, and susceptible to lasting damage.
Hi all,

Payette National Forest and Boise National Forest officials are cautioning forest visitors to check with local ranger districts before you head out to go play in the national forests this month of May. They're getting reports of people getting stuck in the snow.

In general, forest roads above 5,000 feet are still covered in snow, and it will take time for things to melt out after a big winter ... most snowpack levels in Central Idaho are more than 100 percent of normal, with some exceptions.

"Even below 5,000 feet, people may encounter snow in shaded areas two to three feet deep," said Brian Harris, spokesman for the Payette National Forest.

Let us know what you find in your adventures ... send us a comment and post it below.

Press Release from Boise N.F., dated April 11: 
BOISE – Boise National Forest officials are cautioning visitors heading into the mountains to use caution driving forest roads. Roads at lower elevations are clearing, but as roads reach higher elevations, snow remains on the road surface.  Drivers are risking driving through the snow, thinking they can go further only to find they get stuck in the deeper snows.
Last weekend in the Granite Creek area, just east of Idaho City, Forest Law Enforcement Officers assisted 6 vehicles on Saturday that got stuck on the snow covered roads.
“It is easy to think you can keep driving once you reach the snow line, but that snow typically just gets deeper,” said David Olson, Boise National Forest Public Affairs Officer. “That leads to potentially expensive tows or long walks to get help.”
Although the snow is slowly melting waiting for a few weeks and then checking with forest offices regarding higher elevation road access is advised.
For more information contact the Interagency Visitor Center at 208-373-4007 or visit the Boise National Forest Web site at To reach the Boise National Forest ranger districts, go to this web page.

Press release from the Payette National Forest, dated Tuesday, April 29: 

McCALL, Idaho - As spring continues to emerge across the Forest, we expect more visitors to experience the great out of doors in the weeks to come.  However; Forest officials are suggesting that visitors contact a District office to inquire about access and road conditions before heading out.

On the Weiser Ranger District, many roads that normally open on the first of May are expected to remain closed for a little longer.  Roads on the Council Ranger District that normally open on the 15th of May might also be opened later than normal depending on weather and temperature. The Forest Service opens road as the surface conditions become stable enough for vehicle traffic.  “We did experience a late string of storms across the district that has led to many roads still being too wet to open,” said District Ranger Greg Lesch.  “It’s best to call one of our offices to get the latest information.”

Roads on the New Meadows, McCall and Krassel Ranger Districts are higher in elevation and tend to stay closed a little longer than roads in the lower elevations.  Know, before you go is a great way to stay informed and ensure you have a pleasant visit to your national forests.  If members of the public encounter road conditions that are unsafe, we encourage them to share the information with the Forest Service so an evaluation can be done.

Motor Vehicle User Maps are always available at our District offices and are free of charge.  For specific more information, please call:  Council RD: 253-0100; Krassel RD: 634-0974; McCall RD: 634-0400; New Meadows RD: 347-0300; Weiser RD: 549-4200

Thank you. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Popular Danskin OHV trail system will be closed in 2014 for repairs, restoration

Burned bridge in the fire zone. (Courtesy Boise National Forest)
Deep holes like this exist along some of the trails ... (Courtesy Boise National Forest)
Here's a news release from the Boise National Forest on Friday, March 14, regarding the popular Danskin Trail system ...

BOISE, ID – The Danskin OHV area, a popular 60,000-acre recreation site located east of Boise in last year’s Elk and Pony Fire Complex area, will continue to be closed this year. 

The closure applies to motorized and mechanized use, which has been in place since the late-summer fire due to public safety concerns.  Of highest concern are eroded trails, softened soil, burned roots creating trail depressions, damaged bridges and infrastructure, and snag trees.

Two recent accidents, one involving a Forest Service worker, and the second a private citizen operating a vehicle near the OHV area, involved ATV’s that suddenly rolled off the trail and down steep slopes due to the soft and eroded trails.

“I have been, and continue to be, concerned with the hazards that exist in this recreation area due to the fire damage,” said Stephaney Church, Mountain Home District Ranger. “These people were lucky they were not killed and until we can fully assess the damage, fully implement a restoration plan, and begin to see accomplishments with mitigating the hazards public use of this area is dangerous and prohibited.”

In addition, the vegetation and wildlife are slowly recovering and are in a fragile condition. Church said that high severity fires increase water runoff and burn vegetation such as brush and roots that hold the soil in place creating dangerous conditions. Church added a key ingredient to protect and preserve the trail system is user compliance.

Work to rehabilitate and repair the fire damage has begun.  Grass seeds were applied by helicopter in the early winter, and volunteer efforts have begun to help establish sagebrush and bitterbrush consumed by the fire.

“Coordination with several ATV clubs, conservation groups and outdoor organizations is occurring, but to repair the vast and significant damage will take some time,” said Church.  “We are optimistic good progress will be made throughout the coming year, and are eager to reopen the area as soon as it is safe for public use.”

Violation of the closure is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 dollar fine.  Further information is available at the Mountain Home Ranger District at 587-7961 or

For alternative places to ride in SW Idaho, please see our Where to Ride page for some ideas. The foothills of the Owyhee Mountains open up early in the spring and would be a good choice. We feature two rides in that area -- an ATV fun run, and a motorcycle fun run. Both rides are about 25 miles long. The Owyhee Backcountry Byway would be another possibility, weather-permitting. 

See our full list of 50 rides, with detailed descriptions and maps. 

Another great source of information for OHV riding is the "Idaho Trails" statewide interactive online map provided by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Before you go, check with the local ranger district office or BLM district office to check on spring conditions. Lower-elevation trails will be the best bet at this time of year. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

IDPR Trail Rangers clear 1,843 miles of trail statewide in 2013; thanks for the work guys!

Post burn log pile-ups can take many hours, if not days to clear. 
Hi all, 

Happy New Year to the Idaho OHV community! We wanted to share the impressive achievements of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Trail Rangers  program in the 2013 field season. 

The Trail Ranger crews work hard all summer long in Idaho's backcountry to ensure that our multi-use trails on national forest lands are free of downfall and brush, usable and sustainable.  They're strong and sturdy guys who ride motorbikes to access the trails, carrying chainsaws, shovels and other necessary tools for trail maintenance.

The overall goal is to clear about 2,000 miles of trail statewide. Twenty-six different ranger districts on eight national forests throughout the state put in requests for trail-clearing, and IDPR fulfills the requests as best they can. The Forest Service provides a place for the Trail Rangers to sleep, and the trail work is provided to the national forests at no cost. Idaho OHV registration fees pay for the program, keeping many popular multi-use trails open and cleared for the public to enjoy. 

Here's the breakdown of the Trail Rangers work by region, according to IDPR's ATV/Motorbike Program

Miles request: 540.7
Miles Cleared: 528.3 
Downfall: 1949 
Tread work: 1027
Water Bars: 179

Miles Request: 734.2
Miles Cleared: 679.6
Downfall: 7080
Tread Work: 1058
Water Bars: 308

Miles Request: 668.9
Miles Cleared: 635.1
Downfall: 2551
Tread Work: 110
Water Bars: 169

Total miles cleared 1,843 miles 

One statistic seems to jump out in the Southwest region -- the removal of more than 7,000 trees! Recent wildfires, microbursts and blow-down events all led to that amazing tally of downed timber.

You can see individual ranger district reports on Trail Rangers work on the IDPR ATV/Motorbike Facebook page.

Many thanks to the Trail Rangers for their fine work in 2013, and thanks to the OHV users for supporting the program!

If OHV users have a particular trail that they'd like to have addressed by the Trail Rangers, they should contact their local Forest Service ranger district office to ensure that the trail is under consideration for maintenance. Folks also could contact the IDPR ATV/Motorbike progam for information as well.