Enjoy Your National Forests and Grasslands Safely and Responsibly This Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the outdoor recreation season. Forest Service officials are reminding visitors to enjoy their national forests and grasslands safely and responsibly.

The Rocky Mountain Region (Region) manages 24 national forests and grasslands (11 management units) in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The Region manages a broad range of world-renowned recreation resources and services, including 19,751 miles of trails, 18 scenic byways, 1,928 developed recreation areas, 48 designated Wilderness areas, 49 peaks over 14,000 feet and more.

Before heading out to enjoy the outdoors, plan ahead and Know Before You Go. Visitors are encouraged to check with local forest and grassland offices before heading outdoors.

Many mid- and high-elevation recreation areas are under snow and remain closed. Visitors are advised to check the forecast, but flash floods can occur at any time – be careful camping near streambeds or low-lying areas. Dead trees can also fall at any time. Don’t camp or park near dead or discolored trees, especially during strong winds. Saturated soils can cause landslides. Be prepared to turn around where slides have crossed roads or where roads have eroded away.

Visitors are being asked to recreate safely and responsibly. Come prepared with all the essentials, including food, water, and emergency supplies, and be prepared to pack out trash and human waste. Prepare for limited or no services, such as restroom facilities and garbage collection.

Take CDC precautions to prevent illnesses like COVID-19. Stay close to home to keep other communities safe. Avoid crowding in parking lots, trails, scenic overlooks, and other areas and stay 6 feet apart from others. Practice good trail etiquette by alerting trail users of your presence and stepping aside to let others pass.

Many of us celebrate Memorial Day weekend by enjoying campfires and barbeques. Please also follow important fire safety tips to prevent human-caused wildfires. If you can have a campfire, keep it small and clear of surrounding vegetation. Campfires should be no larger than necessary for cooking or personal warmth and should never be left unattended. To completely extinguish the campfire, drown the fire with water and stir with a shovel. Feel for any heat using the back of your hand. Continue to drown and stir until the fire is completely out. Before you go camping, check the latest fire restriction information.

Outdoor safety tips, Leave No Trace principals and regional recreation and fire restriction information can be found on the region’s new online tool.

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