Snowfall Delays Some Utah Campground Openings

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May 20, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Wilderness area in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Alta and Brighton in northeast Utah both piled up 2 more feet of snow Thursday (May 19), yet Memorial Day Weekend is quickly approaching. If you plan to camp in the mountains that holiday, you need to see the snow up there to believe it, a reporter with KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, reported.

Carol Majeske with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest took me snowshoeing into Spruces Campground up Big Cottonwood Canyon. We hiked in on the main road which was buried in a 3-foot snow drift.

"You would never know it's a campground," she said, "because everything is buried in here."

All around us, the campground appeared to be socked in with mid-winter conditions.

"I've been here 10 years, and it's the highest snowpack I've seen," said Majeske.

Spruces is the largest campground in the district, and Majeske says it's usually open by this time and full of campers Memorial Day Weekend. Right now, though, it's better for snowshoeing.

"It's not looking like it will be open Memorial Day weekend," Majeske said with a grin.

That's an understatement. Grills and picnic tables: buried. The bathrooms: draped in snowdrifts.

Even after all of the snow melts off, the Forest Service may still not be able to open the campgrounds right away because the water in the creek is going to rise and create more flooding concerns.

"We've been getting a lot of calls. People are ready to go camping," Majeske said. "They really haven't been up the canyons. They don't quite believe it when you say there's a lot of snow up there."

Most campgrounds in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest are still snowed in, with the exception of the Spanish Fork Ranger District and the Heber Ranger District which have open areas.

Farther up the canyon, Brighton is buried. Lower down, picnic areas are open but fortified for flooding. If you venture into those areas, keep kids away from the rushing water.

If you have a camping reservation, you'll be notified, and it's time to think about plan B.

"You can always come up to Spruces and go snowshoeing," said Majeske.

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