USFS forecast for Memorial Weekend: mud: Slides, fallen trees create driving hazards, road closings
It won't be your usual Memorial Day campout on the Forest this year. Higher than usual snowpack, mudslides, continuing cold weather and storms have delayed the opening of many roads, trails and campgrounds on the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
Given the unusual weather and the potential for flooding and slides, conditions can change hourly. Please call local Forest Service offices for conditions before embarking for sites on the Forest.
"Public safety and health are our number one priority," explained Carla Lee, Manti-La Sal Forest Safety Officer. "Closures help protect people and resources."
Mudslides have already occurred, causing some roads to become impassable. Slide activity is expected to continue due to saturated soils. The Forest Service will respond and repair roads affected when conditions are stable and safe for workers and as resources are available.
The Lake Fork Road (FR 070) from Indianola to Lake Fork and Dairy Fork is currently impassable due to a slide, as is the FR 009 west of Scofield to Bear Ridge. The Pinchot Trail is also closed due to slides. Native surface roads are saturated and many remained closed due to snow. The rule of thumb is: If you are making tracks, stop, turn around and go back to a dry surface.
Fallen trees are presenting yet another hazard. Trees have become unstable due to saturated soils and have fallen across roads and trails.
In the event of sudden high temperatures, streams and rivers will reach flood stages. Many are swollen and swift now. Do not attempt stream crossings. "You may make it through only to return later and find it has risen several inches and is impassable," advised Don Riddle, Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer. Riddle warned drivers to be especially aware of rocks and boulders rolling onto the road.
Any projections of conditions at campgrounds for the Memorial Day holiday are dependent on weather and are not guaranteed. Water has not been turned on in the campgrounds due to freezing weather, except at Nizhioni and Devils Canyon on the Monticello District.
Conditions as of May 20 are as follows:
Price (435) 637-2817 and Ferron Ranger District (435) 384-2372:
The following sites are open: Ferron Canyon Picnic Area, Joes Valley Campground and lower Huntington Canyon sites (includes Left Fork of Huntington, Big Rock, Little Bear, Bridges, Old Folks Flat and the Stuart Guard Station Interpretive Center.) All others are closed due to snow.
All higher elevation roads are closed by snow or slides, including Skyline Drive, Gooseberry, Ferron Canyon above the dugway, Miller Flat, Ferron/Mayfield, Ephraim/Orangeville roads, FR 009 from Scofield west to Bear Ridge and access to Wrigley Springs is impassable for trailers.
Sanpete Ranger District (435) 283-4151:
The following sites are open: Manti Community Campground, Maple Canyon Campground, Twin Reservoir Campground, Chicken Creek Campground, and Spring City Picnic Area. Other sites are not accessible.
Moab Ranger District (435) 259-7155:
Warner Lake and Oowah Lake campgrounds are closed. All of the high passes (Geyser, La Sal and North Creek) are still snow covered. Buckeye Reservoir campground will be closed until early August due to construction.
Monticello Ranger District (435) 587-2041: All campgrounds are open. Water has not been turned on due to freezing conditions except at Nizhioni and Devils Canyon. Higher elevation roads and trails are closed due to wet/muddy conditions and snow. Streams are running high.