As the July 4th holiday approaches, the Forest Service would like to remind those who are planning for the holiday weekend that there are great places throughout the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to visit. The forest has over 3,200 miles of trails, 76 campgrounds, picnic and recreation areas, as well as being home to the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.
Among the traditional camping, hiking and fishing activities, visitors are known to also enjoy wildflower viewing, photography, exploring the back country and a multitude of family activities. Additionally, there are 24 rustic cabins available throughout the forest for rent during the summer and fall hunting season. Go to www.recreation.gov to find out more and to reserve a cabin or a campsite.
Before you plan your trip, check for current road, trail and campground conditions by contacting the Forest Service, or go online to www.fs.usda.gov/bdnf. Always check to see what the current weather conditions are and go prepared for changing conditions. Visitors are cautioned to stay on roads to avoid getting stuck or starting wildland fires and to pay attention to road closed signs.
Many trails and roads may not be open at higher elevations due to snow, high water or trees that have fallen across trails or roads. Stay on trails and do not create new trails to get around hazards. Users should expect many trails to be impassable from fallen trees.
Falling trees present a serious hazard to visitors. Here are a few handy tips:
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid dense patches of dead trees.
- Trees can fall without warning; place tents and park vehicles in areas where they will not be hit if a tree falls;
- Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds that could blow down trees, especially in areas where there have been fires or there are stands of trees that have been killed by bugs.
- If you are in the forest when winds kick up, head to a clearing out of reach of any potential falling trees.
- Carry an ax or saw with you to remove trees that may fall across roads and prevent you from either continuing on your travels or preventing you from returning to your camp or home.
- Report downed trees that block roads or trails to the Forest Service.
Visitors are cautioned to stay on roads to avoid getting stuck or starting wildland fires. Please do not drive on closed roads, as identified by signs and/or the Forest visitor map.
Both black bears and grizzlies are out and about. Keep your camp clean and store attractants (food, drinks, toiletries, barbeque grill, etc.) out of reach of all animals. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF requires all food, attractants, and refuse must be acceptably stored or attended. Attended means that someone is within 100 feet and in sight of accessible items. While attended these items do not have to be stored. To find out more about bear safety and links to certified bear resistant products go online to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF web page at https://go.usa.gov/xyYxt.
The Forest has a bear-resistant container loaner program to help forest visitors comply with food storage regulations. Forest visitors can check out a variety of bear-resistant containers such as horse panniers, backpacking “bear barrels” and bear-resistant coolers for their planned outings. There is a limited supply of these containers, so contact your local Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF office for details.
Target shooting is allowed on National Forest land, however, shooting is not allowed in developed sites such as campgrounds/day use areas and trailheads, including Thompson Park as well as shooting across streams, lakes and roads. Target shooters need to be at least 150 yards away from occupied areas and facilities. Additionally, possession and use of exploding targets is prohibited on National Forest land. Target shooters are advised to be cautious and aware of their surroundings as well as pick up their shooting trash when done.
Visitors are cautioned to be extremely careful with fire as, fuels such as grass, shrubs and trees are beginning to dry out.
Fireworks are prohibited in National Forests. Fireworks, dry grass and trees are a bad combination. Never leave a campfire unattended. Make sure your campfire is extinguished completely and the coals are cool to the touch before you leave. Bring a bucket, and shovel with you to help put out your campfire.
Human caused fires are one of the factors fire officials use to determine if fire restrictions are necessary. Currently, there are no fire restrictions in effect in SW Montana. However, weather and fuel conditions can change quickly. To stay up to date with fire restrictions go on-line to http://firerestrictions.us.
For more information, call the Forest Service office nearest to the area you wish to visit.