Memorial Day weekend: What to know before visiting National Forests in WA

(United States Forest Service: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Facebook))

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is reminding people in the Pacific Northwest about potential hazards and advisories in place in national forests ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

On Friday, Pacific Northwest Region officials with the USFS sent out a press release about outdoor recreational opportunities on federal lands, in addition to mentioning inherent hazards in national forests that are "use at your own risk". Before planning a Memorial Day weekend trip to a national forest in Washington state, officials are advising outdoor enthusiasts to check for any visitor alerts. 

Current hazards and advisories, as well as visitor alerts for specific national forests in Washington state are listed below.

HAZARDS AND ADVISORIES

WATER SAFETY

According to USFS, rivers and streams are exceptionally cold due to recent snowmelt. Rising water levels and debris from recent fires may also increase in-water obstructions down-stream. Officials are saying logs carried by strong currents can strike swimmers and boaters, or create low-head dams that may entrap them in dangerous currents. It is strongly encouraged that visitors prepare themselves with knowledge about potential hazards; wear appropriate cold-water gear, and use a well-fitted personal floatation device.

BURNED AREA HAZARDS

The USFS says more than half a million acres of forests burned across the state of Washington in 2020 and 2021. In preparation for reopening recently burned areas, officials are warning visitors of increased risk of falling trees, falling rocks, landslides and flash floods.

CROWDED CONDITIONS

While many campgrounds are open, including some with first-come, first-served camping opportunities, holiday weekends are usually extremely busy. USFS officials are recommending that visitors check the forest’s website or contact the local Ranger District to find out what’s closed and what’s expected to be open.

RELATED: Trailhead Direct shuttle returns Memorial Day weekend for hiking enthusiasts

NATIONAL FOREST VISITOR ALERTS IN WASHINGTON STATE

OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST

(United States Forest Service: Olympic National Forest (Facebook))

The USFS is reminding visitors that alcohol, camping, campfires and overnight parking are prohibited along Forest Service Road 24 and Forest Service Road 2451, in the Lake Cushman corridor on the Olympic National Forest. Portions of Forest Service Roads 29, 2922, and 30 are closed until further notice due to winter flooding and storm damage. 

GIFFORD PINCHOT NATIONAL FOREST

(United States Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Facebook))

Winter weather has delayed necessary work by Forest Service and campground concessionaire employees to open some lower elevation campgrounds for the season. Check the current conditions report to learn which campgrounds are open. For updates about concessionaire-operated campgrounds contact Rocky Mountain Recreation by calling 661-702-1420. 

MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

(United States Forest Service: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Facebook))

Lower-elevation roads and trails are open, but there are many snow-packed roads and trails, and road closures, especially at higher elevations. The Forest Service staff are working diligently to assess and repair winter road and trail damage where sites are accessible; however, this process will take time and public access to many recreation areas is still limited. Recreation conditions are available on the forest website

OKANOGAN-WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST

(United States Forest Service: Okanaogan Wenatchee National Forest (Facebook))

Cedar Creek and Cub Creek fire closures on the Methow Valley Ranger District are being reviewed to determine which areas may reopen, starting June 2. Unstable soil, flash flood risks, and hazard tree removal needs continue to contribute to closures of some campgrounds. Closure information and links to recreation site conditions in each district can be reviewed on the forest website.

COLVILLE NATIONAL FOREST

(United States Forest Service: Colville National Forest (Facebook))

Snow or deep mud may be present at higher elevations. For current conditions, visit the forest website

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE NATIONAL SCENIC AREA

(United States Forest Service: )

Seasonal timed-use permits are required to access Multnomah Falls Waterfall Corridor (off I-84 exit 28 at Bridal Veil to exit 35 at Ainsworth) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily, beginning May 24. Permits are also required to park at the Multnomah Falls recreation site during these hours. Hikers headed to Dog Mountain on Memorial Day and weekends through June 13 must obtain an online visitor permit. For permit requirements and more information, visit the forest’s website