The presence of springtime weather conditions is sparking interest in outdoor recreation across North Central Washington. 

The Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest is receiving a lot of questions from people about camping options. 

National Forest spokesperson Robin DeMario says the spike in interest happens every year, although campgrounds are mostly still closed. 

“Every spring when it starts greening up, maybe on the west side and other areas, folks assume that conditions are the same, and they’re not,” said De Mario. “We’re a little bit higher elevation and access is a bit limited to some of those areas.”  

It'll be early or mid-May before conditions are favorable for foot traffic in most locations. 

DeMario says crews will then have to perform extensive maintenance and cleanup work before campgrounds can open. 

"If any trees have come down in the campgrounds, they'll remove those trees, any debris that may have fallen near or on campsites or campgrounds, picnic table," DeMario said. "So, they ’ll do a maintenance of those areas before opening them to the public." 

In addition, crews will have to test water potability and check the plumbing and all other facilities to ensure everything is operational. 

Entiat Pine Flats Campground
Entiat Pine Flats Campground USDA Forest Service

So far, the only campgrounds open locally in Chelan County are in the Entiat and Chelan Ranger Districts.   

Entiat Pine Flats Campground
Entiat Pine Flats Campground- USDA Forest Service

Pine Flats Campground, which is located 14 miles up the Entiat Valley in the Entiat Ranger District, is open but there are no amenities, so people need to bring drinking water and pack out all their garbage.  

Deer Point Dock USDA Forest Service
Deer Point Dock USDA Forest Service

On the Chelan Ranger District, the up-lake campgrounds are also open, but you need a boat to access them.   

Recreationists are asked to contact a local ranger station to get the most up-to-date information on campground status or go to the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest website. 

Forest road and trail conditions vary depending on elevation.  

The gates on some forest roads remain closed and other roads are blocked by snow as you drive up in elevation. Lower elevation roads though are open and accessible. 

Trail maintenance started on the Lakeshore Trail on the north shore of Lake Chelan in mid-April and maintenance on other forest trails will occur as access becomes available. 

Counties with the worst droughts in Washington

Washington State is continuing its drought emergency into 2024, citing low snowpack and hot, dry forecasts. Here are the counties most affected by drought, based on data from Stacker and U.S. Drought Monitor to identify the counties in Washington with the worst droughts in the week leading up to March 5, 2024.
Note: "Abnormally dry" is not considered to be a drought, but is included as a separate data point.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

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