Dry winter means early opening for campgrounds
In the middle of this past winter one could drive up the dirt road near Soldier Summit that travels north along the White River and make it nearly to Reservation Ridge without being blocked by high snow.
So little snow fell on the Wasatch Plateau that access in the depths of what should be a very white time in the mountains was largely unimpeded. That lack of snow has carried through to the spring as many people have already begun camping and traveling in the mountainous back country.
Warm, dry weather has made it possible to open campgrounds and roads on the Manti-La Sal National Forest earlier than usual. The weather has made people eager to get into the forest to camp and travel the roads and trails. However, early openings mean Forest Service employees have not had time to get all water systems turned on, tested and approved for consumption.
"We hope people will be patient with us," said Bill Broadbear, recreation manager for the Ferron, Price and Sanpete Districts. "It just takes us a while to get all this work done, despite the weather."
Currently all major roads in the Forest are open except for Skyline Drive and the tops of the Ephraim/Orangeville and Ferron/Mayfield roads. Trails may be accessible, but still have trees down and need clean-up. All campgrounds are expected to be open for Memorial Day weekend.
There may be some lingering drifts in higher elevation sites, and some water systems may not yet be turned on. All water systems are expected to be in service by early June. Campers using undeveloped off-road sites should be sure soils are not saturated before attempting to camp in those areas.
In the Ashley National Forest, particularly in the Duchesne-Roosevelt Ranger District'a southern areas, the story is much the same. Reservation Ridge Road (Forest Service Road 147) is accessible but muddy in spots. Both Forest service districts warn that leaving ruts in roads and trails constitutes resource damage and can result in violation notices (tickets). Both the Ashley and Manti-LaSal districts ask for help in maintaining quality access by reducing damage to motorized routes.
For more information contact the local Forest Service office or for Manti-LaSal National Forest you can got to http://www.fs.usda.gov/mantilasal or for the Ashley National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/ashley.