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Idaho campgrounds, boat launches, day-use areas reopening to the public

Facilities across southwest Idaho are beginning to open again after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOISE, Idaho — As more of Idaho opens and as the weather entices people to get outdoors, some campgrounds, boat launches and day-use areas are reopening to the public on Friday, May 15.

Idaho Power will reopen multiple facilities in southwest Idaho that have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has begun a phased reopening of its recreation sites while encouraging visitors to safely follow social distancing guidelines.

Some sites will be monitored to avoid overcrowding.

Restrooms remain closed, but portable toilets have been installed at most locations. Openings could be delayed for safety reasons.

The following sites are scheduled to open on Friday:

• Hells Canyon area: Hells Canyon Park boat launch, Copperfield boat launch, Oxbow boat launch, Old Carter's Landing, McCormick Park boat launch, Oxbow and Hells Canyon Reservoir dispersed campsites
• C.J. Strike: North Park boat launch and day-use area, Jack's Creek boat launch and dispersed campsites
• Hagerman area: Bliss Park, Malad Fountain Park, Lower Salmon raft launch, Lower Salmon Falls Park, Lower Salmon boat launch
• Other areas: Swan Falls downstream campsites (downstream boat launch remains closed), Milner whitewater put-in, American Falls Park

Developed campgrounds in Hells Canyon and at C.J. Strike Reservoir south of Mountain Home remain closed.

Visitors are encouraged to visit idahopower.com to see a list of open recreation sites before traveling.

Boise National Forest gets ready for visitors

In the Boise National Forest, crews are getting some lower elevation campgrounds ready for a Memorial Day weekend opening.

Crews must assess each campground for hazards and possible winter damage before opening. Developed campgrounds are currently closed.

"We are asking visitors to avoid our developed campgrounds so crews can work as quickly as possible to open sites for the Memorial Day weekend," said Danelle Highfill, Boise National Forest recreation manager. "It is an issue of public safety. Crews routinely need to drop hazard trees that have been damaged because of snow load, and they can't do that if the campsites are occupied."

The COVID-19 situation has delayed campground opening that normally occur in mid to late May. Due to COVID-19, additional cleaning and repair work may be required. Some developed campgrounds will likely be opened with limited services.

Visitors should know that the majority of the forest is still open for public access. Trails and trailheads remain open. People should avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more.

"Dispersed camping is open throughout the forest except for two locations in the Silver Creek area," Highfill said. "We want to encourage visitors to pack out their trash, practice "Leave no Trace" land use principles, and social distance when recreating on the forest. Most of all, we are asking the public to be patient for a couple more weeks."

You can make campground reservations online.  

Stay up to date on Boise National Forest closures.

Payette National Forest opens some river sections to float boaters

The Payette National Forest announced Friday that the lower South Fork of the Salmon River is back open for float boating.

Float boaters are welcome to float that section of the river, and are reminded that free permits are required to float between the confluence with the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and the confluence with the Salmon River.  

Please submit your request for a permit 7 to 10 days ahead of your planned float trip. For questions, contact the McCall Ranger District at 208-634-0400.

Access to the Payette National Forest remains open with a 10-person group limit in place in accordance with Rebound Idaho guidelines.  Only a small number of campgrounds are open at this time of year.  

Dispersed camping is available across the forest where sites are accessible. 

The latest information can be found by calling 208-634-0700.

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