Thursday, May 30, 2024

Dispersed activities encouraged on Idaho Panhandle National Forests

| May 20, 2020 2:30 PM

As the Memorial Day weekend nears, the USDA Forest Service suggests exploration of dispersed recreation opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, encouraging forest visitors who want to get into the great outdoors to be aware of limited campground availability on the forest.

Since March, developed campgrounds and other recreation sites on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) have been temporarily closed for public safety. The sites are tentatively scheduled to start opening May 30 upon entry into Stage 3 of Idaho Governor Brad Little’s Idaho Rebounds Strategy. Dispersed camping, hiking, trail use, and other dispersed activities are encouraged across the National Forests. Memorial Day Weekend visitors should prepare for limited or no services, such as restroom facilities and garbage collection (pack it in pack it out).

The Forest Service is working closely with concessionaires that operate many of the campgrounds and day use sites to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal COVID-19 guidelines and prepare sites after the winter closures to ensure a safe experience. Many campgrounds have experienced extensive wind and hazard tree damage over the winter and repair is ongoing or will begin soon as seasonal staff on-boards. Public and employee safety is a top priority. The Forest Service asks visitors to avoid developed campgrounds so staff can work as quickly as possible to open many sites by the end of May.

Nationwide, most of your national forests and grasslands remain open for you to enjoy, and we look forward to the day when all locations can safely reopen. The Forest Service is making every effort to expand access while following CDC guidance and state and local government orders to protect people and employees. Most of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests trails, trailheads, day-use sites and boat ramps remain open. For the most up to date information on closures and when campgrounds are scheduled to open, please visit our website at:

Some maintenance services are limited at this time, so we ask everyone to practice Leave No Trace etiquette and adhere to CDC guidelines:

• Prepare for limited or no services, such as restroom facilities and garbage collection (pack it in pack it out)

• Bears are emerging so remember to store food properly and carry bear spray

• Avoid gathering with others in parking lots, trails, scenic overlooks and other areas

• To prevent illnesses like COVID-19, wash hands often, stick to group sizes of 10 or less, and practice social distancing.

• Please remember to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.