(UPDATE 05/22) - Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest has updated specific opening times for campgrounds and cabins across the state, while keeping some closed. In a press release, HLACNF lists the following:
All grounds will be open for Memorial Day weekend May 22. All cabins will be open by May 29 to renters except Miller Cabin which will remain closed.
All grounds will be open for Memorial Day and will have water with the exception of Thain Creek ground. Kings Hill and Crystal Lake are the only two grounds that will not be open for Memorial Day weekend due to snow/access. All cabins will be open on May 23 to renters, except Monument Peak which opens June 1. All roads higher than 6000 feet are still impassible due to snow conditions.
GREAT FALLS - In the latest on Montana Right Now’s You Asked series, we got a question from Megan asking us why some campgrounds and cabins remain closed even after Governor Bullock gave them the green light on May 1. After reaching out, forest staff say keeping campgrounds closed for the time being gives them time to prepare for a safe reopening by Memorial Day weekend.
Crews with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLACNF) are working on getting enough sanitizer, face masks and personal protective gear for keeping rec facilities - like bathrooms and rental spaces - clean during closed hours and off-seasons.
“They’re periodically cleaned on a schedule, as far as the restrooms facilities at developed campgrounds (go), but they are not cleaned in between each visitor’s use,” said Aimee Cox, HLACNF’s acting public affairs officer.
Cox said staff are focusing on campgrounds as their main priority, with cabins possibly opening steadily after May 15, depending on weather, access to sites and facility conditions.
“Each district is working hard with their staff to get these facilities open and available to the public, because we know folks are anxious to enjoy their national forest,” said Cox.
This comes after such sites closed down roughly three weeks ago in safety efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Camping sites may choose to reopen after May 22. Cox explains that specific opening dates for campgrounds and cabins depend on the districts they’re based in, with those by Holter Lake set to reopen to the pub on June 1st.
Once individual sites become publicly accessible again, Cox wants to remind camp goers and cabin users to pack it in, and pack it out, cleaning up after themselves before leaving so others can also enjoy the sites.
Anyone with cabin rentals and reservations already in place through recreation.gov can expect either texts or emails if any changes like cancellations and reschedulings take place.
You may not be able to enjoy the outdoors with a tent just yet, but trailheads remain open to the public, allowing for a good old walk in mother nature as long as you’re not travelling in groups of 10 or more people.
“While we understand there may be some excitement from the public to return to their favorite recreation areas, please continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on staying safe. Camping and recreating on National Forests is something individuals and families look forward to experiencing every summer,” said Bill Avey HLACNF’s supervisor.