Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest officials now are working to prepare campsites and recreational areas at lower elevations for holiday weekend visitors.

PENDLETON — As outdoor enthusiasts prepare to head to the mountains this Memorial Day weekend, Umatilla National Forest officials are cautioning that some roads, trails and campgrounds remain closed or impassable due to late-season snowfall.

A press release from the Umatilla National Forest reported some shaded areas and cutbanks on mountain roads still may have dense snow drifts that vehicles cannot pass, and most trails for hiking and cars have yet to be maintained. And some roads damaged during flooding events in February and May 2020 remain closed.

Officials now are working to prepare campsites and recreational areas at lower elevations for holiday weekend visitors, the press release said.

“Our first focus is to address hazard tree removal and other safety issues before our campgrounds can open to the public,” Forest Recreation Program Manager Shane Dittlinger said in the press release.

Some campgrounds will be open during the holiday weekend with “clean-up and start-up” and other services limited, the press release said.

“Our seasonal workforce is still coming on so we’re working really hard with the limited number of employees we do have on staff,” added Dittlinger.

The Umatilla National Forest reported the following campgrounds will be open for the holiday weekend: Alder Thicket, Bear Wallow, Big Creek Meadows, Big Springs, Bull Prairie Lake, Coalmine Hill, Drift Fence, Driftwood, Divide Well, Fairview, Frazier, Forest Boundary, Gold Dredge, Ladybug, Lane Creek, Panjab, North Fork John Day, Oriental, Pataha, Penland Lake, Tollbridge, Tucannon, Welch Creek and Winom.

And these campgrounds remain closed: Godman, Jubilee Lake, Mottet, Midway, Misery, Olive Lake, Target Meadows, Teal Spring, Umatilla Forks, Wickiup, Woodward and Woodland.

Forest officials are urging visitors to contact their local ranger district before heading to the mountains to confirm where they plan to travel is open and accessible. Officials also are warning visitors to refrain from driving on wet or unstable ground and to keep an eye out for “pull-offs in rocky, well-drained areas,” the press release stated.

Visitors should be cautious while maintaining a campfire and never leave one unattended. They also should pack extra food, water, clothing and emergency supplies and let people know where they are going and when they hope hope to be back because cellphone service in the mountains is limited, the press release said.

Motorists should obtain a Motorized Vehicle Use Map before heading to the mountains to ride all-terrain vehicles, the press release said.

Visitors are required to pay a nightly fee of between $8 to $24, with fees added for additional vehicles at a given campsite.

Reservations now can be made for campsites Bull Prairie Lake, Jubilee Lake, North Fork John Day and Olive Lake. All other campsites in the Umatilla National Forest, according to the press release, are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Reporter primarily covering government and public safety in Umatilla and Morrow County.

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