Many Utah campsites still closed for Memorial Day weekend

Posted at 9:52 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 23:52:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer which means campers will be headed outdoors.

Rangers with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest say this Memorial Day there won't be as many campsites open as there usually is – that’s thanks to Mother Nature.

“Right now we're still waiting for a lot of snow to melt off. We have a huge snowpack in the mountains,” said Becky Hotze, Salt Lake District Ranger, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Stubborn snow is still sticking around at Spruces Campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It's the same picture at other sites in the higher elevations and this will impact how many spots are open for campers during the holiday weekend.

“We do try to open all the sites by Memorial weekend just because we realize that's a really busy weekend and we want to make sure people can use their public lands,” Hotze said.

But thick wet snow on the campgrounds, muddy roads and standing water are preventing the openings, not to mention many campsites line raging rivers.

“We've had three fatalities on this forest already due to water related deaths,” Hotze said.

Most sites will have partial closures, but some spots will remain completely closed because you won't even be able to get to them. Utah Department of Transportation crews have been working to clear Guardsman’s Pass and Mirror Lake Highway, but neither will be open this weekend.

If you're desperate for a spot, you'll have better luck with state parks.

“We don’t really have any campsites up that high so all of our campgrounds are expected to be open and functioning at this time,” said Devan Chavez, Utah State Parks.

Rangers say the key to finding a spot is to simply plan ahead.
You can find which sites will be open this weekend at the following links.