MCCALL, Idaho — As people head outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, there is limited campground availability in the Payette National Forest to be aware of. Typically there are only a few low elevation campgrounds open with restroom and water services in early May.
None of the campgrounds have restrooms and potable water available. Restroom facilities outside of campgrounds are not being cleaned or maintained right now, so visitors should plan accordingly.
The coronavirus pandemic is delaying preparation for normal campground operations that normally take place in mid- to late-May. Seasonal recreation employees were not hired as early as usual and the cleaning requirements are more intense than in previous years.
The forest also had higher than normal snow levels due to two weeks of cold temperatures in early April. The snow cover is now patchy and there are no longer quality snowmobiling opportunities.
Right now, there are no trail closures and dispersed camping is not limited. There is a 10-person group limit that matches the state's and the CDC's recommendations for limiting the spread of COVID-19.
There are more people visiting the forest right now as many want to get outside.
“We encourage people to recreate across the Forest, but know that some limitations of overnight camping exist, and higher than normal amounts of people will be encountered,” said Jascha Zeitlin, West Zone Recreation Specialist for the Forest. “For the next few weeks, when you head out and intend to camp in a certain location, it’s best to have a plan A, a plan B, and even a plan C if you wish to camp overnight.”
Visitors should plan to bring all supplies needed to avoid stopping at local stores and gas stations. It is recommended to recreate in areas close to your home.
People should bring their own toilet paper and a small shovel as solid human waste should be buried at least six to eight inches. As usual, if you bring it in to the forest, you should bring it out with you, including all trash.
Stay up to date on local restrictions and follow current rules and guidelines when camping in the forest. Forest officials are monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will make adjustments to recreation sites as needed.
For the latest information, call the local Forest Service office or visit the Payette National Forest website.