Redfish Lake

Developed campgrounds, including those around Redfish Lake, will be closed until June 5. 

Campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area will be closed this month, the Forest Service announced on Friday.

By order effective today, all developed campgrounds and most recreation sites will be shut down through June 5 due to COVID-19.

“I understand the importance of these sites to the public and to the local communities, thus we will continue to monitor the situation closely and re-evaluate as new information becomes available,” SNRA Area Ranger Kirk Flannigan said in a statement.

Dispersed camping is open, Forest Service spokeswoman Julie Thomas told the Express. So are trailheads and boat docks. Right now, though, the SNRA can’t operate under Gov. Brad Little’s coronavirus social-distancing rules, sanitation protocols, and limitations on gatherings, Thomas said.

“Our concessionaires and employees can’t meet the standards the governor has set,” Thomas said. “If the governor’s order were to change, we’d change with them.”

Idaho’s statewide shelter-in-place orders gave way to the first phase of Little’s four-step reopening plan on Friday. Churches, daycares, kids camps and most retail stores will be able to reopen during the first two weeks of May. The SNRA’s June 5 target falls during “Stage Three” of Little's timeline, which would allow gatherings of 10-50 people with appropriate distancing, resume non-essential travel, and discontinue the 14-day self-quarantine for people entering Idaho.

SNRA campgrounds typically open around Memorial Day—this year, May 25. This week, most of them were still buried in snow, Thomas said. Despite that, online backlash to the announcement was swift. Thomas understood the sentiment, but urged patience.

“The public is ready for things to go back to normal,” Thomas said. “It’s upsetting to them that we have to issue these closures—we understand that. If things change, we’ll reassess. But right now, we just need a little extra time.”

As of Friday, both the Boise and Salmon-Challis National Forests had similar restrictions in place. No other ranger districts in the Sawtooth National Forest do, but all developed campgrounds in Blaine County sit in the SNRA except one: Boundary Campground, off of Trail Creek Road in Sun Valley.

Here’s a full list of SNRA campgrounds and recreation sites that are closed as of May 1:

WOOD RIVER RECREATION COMPLEX

• Caribou Campground

• Murdock Campground

• North Fork Campground

• Wood River Campground

• Wood River Tent and Picnic

• Easley Campground

ALTURAS RECREATION COMPLEX

• Chemeketan Campground / Group

• Alturas Tent Camping Area

• Alturas Picnic / Day Use

• Smokey Bear Campground

• North Shore Campground

• Alturas Inlet Campground

• Alturas Inlet Beach and Picnic Area

• Pettit Lake Campground

REDFISH LAKE RECREATION COMPLEX

• Chinook Bay Campground

• Glacier View Campground

• Mountain View Campground

• Mt. Heyburn Campground

• North Shore Picnic Area

• Outlet Campground

• Outlet Day Use Area and Beach

• Point Campground

• Point Day Use

• Redfish Inlet Campground

• Sockeye Campground

• Sunny Gulch Campground

• Sunny Gulch Day Use

HWY 21 RECREATION COMPLEX

• Elk Creek Campground / Group

• Iron Creek Campground

• Lakeview Campground

• Sheep Trail Campground / Group

• Stanley Lake Campground

• Trap Creek Campground / Group

SALMON RIVER RECREATION COMPLEX

• Casino Creek Campground

• Holman Creek Campground

• Lower O’Brien Campground

• Mormon Bend Campground

• Riverside Campground

• Salmon River Campground

• Upper O’Brien Campground

• Whiskey Flat Campground

EAST FORK of the SALMON RIVER & GRANDJEAN

• Grandjean Campground

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

Load comments