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Memorial Day brings weekend camping opportunities

Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest camping events of the year in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests and most of the campgrounds in the two forests will be accessible for the holiday weekend.

The U.S. Forest service wants recreationists to keep in mind there is still a lot of snow in the upper mid-elevation areas of the forest with the higher elevation areas still completely snowed in.

With warmer temperatures is the potential for high run-off. With temperatures predicted to be well above normal for the next week or so, forest users should pay particular attention to melting snow and high water levels.

Many streams will swell during excessive runoff, weakening banks and washing existing crossings out. Before attempting to cross a stream on a fallen log make sure to check how well established that log is before venturing across it. It takes very little added weight to collapse the bank holding the log. The forest service also suggests to be especially watchful when recreating with small children as streams, creeks and rivers will be running fast and strong during the melt off and could be very hazardous.

Recreationists looking for sites to camp in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests will need to have alternative plans in mind in case their favorite campground in not yet open. Most national forest campground fees range from $3 to $14 per night, depending upon amenities available. Campers can expect to pay a few dollars more at concessionaire-operated campgrounds. Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis at most campgrounds in the Okanogan and Wenatchee Forests.

Following is information about campgrounds that are currently open in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

Chelan Ranger District: Snowberry Bowl Campground is open and charging camping fees. Grouse Mountain Campground may be open by Memorial Day weekend if the snow melts off the road. Campers should call the ranger district office for the latest information. Antilon Lake Campground is open and will be charging camping fees over the Memorial Day weekend. All other campgrounds are still blocked by snow. Currently, most boat docks are not accessible due to the low lake level, but Prince Creek and Corral Creek are fully operational. Safety Harbor, Deer Point and Refrigerator Harbor are all at least partially accessible.

Cle Elum Ranger District: Wishpoosh, Cle Elum River, Red Mountain, Swauk, Mineral Springs, Taneum and Icewater Creek campgrounds are open and charging camping fees. Taneum Campground is open to foot traffic only. The gate is closed to vehicles due to the high creek crossing. Crystal Springs and Kachess campgrounds should be open by Memorial Day weekend. Owhi Campground will not open until mid-June.

Entiat Ranger District: Pine Flats, Fox Creek and Lake Creek campgrounds are open on full fee basis with water and garbage services available.

Methow Valley Ranger District: War Creek, Mystery, Popular Flat, South Creek, J.R., Foggy Dew, Early Winters, Klipchuck, Ballard, Buck Lake, Flat, Nice, Ruffed Grouse, Honeymoon, Blackpine, Falls Creek, Chewuch and Camp Four campgrounds are all snowfree and camping is allowed. Fees will be charged in campgrounds by Memorial Day weekend.

Naches Ranger District: The following concessionaire-operated campgrounds are now open: Hause Creek, Indian Creek and Windy Point on U.S. Highway 12, Sawmill Flat, Cottonwood, Little Naches, Cougar Flat and Cedar Springs on State Route 410. Both Clear Lake day use site and Boulder Cave are open. Fees for camping range from $15-$17 a day and $5 per vehicle for parking at day use sites. Willows, Bumping Lake sites 46-68 and Soda Springs opened on Friday, May 19. Pending snow melt, Bumping Lake sites 1-45, Pleasant Valley, Hells Crossing and Lodgepole campgrounds will open on Friday, May 26.

Tonasket Ranger District: Barring unexpected cold weather, almost all district campgrounds are expected to be open and those that charge fees should be doing so by Memorial Day weekend. Campgrounds that may not be open or accessible due to snow may include Tiffany, Long Swamp, Fourteen Mile and the trailheads at Irongage and Chewuch. Most campsites in the 5-lakes area fill up quickly for long weekends like the one approaching. Arriving early is recommended at these popular sites.

Wenatchee River Ranger District: All campgrounds up the Icicle drainage and in Tumwater Canyon will be open for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Most of these campgrounds charge camping fees ranging from $7 to $14. In the Lake Wenatchee area Glacier View, White Pine, Napeequa Crossing, Goose Creek and Meadow Creek campgrounds are open. Other campgrounds in this area may be open by Memorial Day weekend. Call 509-548-6977 for current information.

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