As the United States prepares to commemorate Memorial Day, honoring the lives of military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice, the USDA Forest Service is also gearing up to welcome visitors to national forests for the summer season. The Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of the camping season.
However, the winter’s persistent moisture, while welcomed, has caused a delay in the opening of some campgrounds, especially those around the Mt Shasta and McCloud areas. The Forest Service has asked visitors to be patient as lingering snowfall gradually melts.
Some trails might also require additional time to become fully accessible due to snowmelt. Currently, campgrounds and trails located above an elevation of 3,000 feet could still be affected, leading to delayed openings or restricted access. Visitors are advised to check the Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s official website for updates on site, campground, and trail alerts, as well as information about restricted areas for dispersed camping or campfires. It’s also recommended to check Recreation.gov for campground reservation requirements and to have alternative destinations in mind, in case the desired area is either closed or too crowded.
“This winter has brought a lot of moisture, which we are so thankful for,” said Ruth Esperance, Public Affairs Officer. “As you plan your holiday activities, please plan for safety in the water and on land, to assure you can enjoy your favorite recreational opportunities on our public lands.”
The Forest Service acknowledges that campfires add to the enjoyment of summer camping, but they also caution that campfires should be made within designated fire rings in developed campgrounds. Those who opt for dispersed camping – camping outside of developed campgrounds – are urged to ensure their campfire is completely extinguished before leaving the site unattended. Escaped campfires from dispersed camping are a significant cause of human-induced wildfires on public lands. Visitors are reminded that campfire permits are mandatory and can be obtained from local Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Bureau of Land Management offices.
The Forest Service has also provided several safety tips for those heading to national forests:
- Check the weather forecast and water conditions.
- Leave your campsite cleaner than when you arrived, protecting water sources and wildlife.
- Always attend to your campfire and ensure it is completely extinguished using water, stirring with a shovel, and feeling for residual heat.
- When using a portable stove, clear the area of flammable debris and prevent the stove from tipping.
- Stick to designated trails when driving and be cautious of parking in areas with tall, dry vegetation. Ensure chains are properly connected when towing.
- Fireworks are prohibited on all national forests year-round, as are all other pyrotechnic devices. Exercise caution when smoking and extinguish all materials completely on bare soil.