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Ranger predicts cabin fever will lead to packed Utah campgrounds

Heber Kamas area (US Forest Service)

If you’ve been out enjoying the great outdoors, you might think the pandemic is over. Over the last weekend, a ranger with the Heber Kamas Ranger District saw the beginning of what he thinks will be a busy summer season for Utah campgrounds.

“Any open space along [the open part of] Mirror Lake Highway has been occupied,” said Ranger Dano Jauregui. “Due to the situation, our numbers have spiked significantly.”  And this is just the ‘dispersed’ campsites where people can find an open spot on the side of the road to set up shop.

Jauregui says when the official campsites open and Mirror Lake Highway is clear of snow,  “I think we’re gonna have a huge uptick in recreational use… including people that haven’t done it in the past.”

That time, Jauregui thinks will probably come sooner rather than later.

Early snowmelt

Jauregui says a number of campgrounds are already open in the Strawberry Reservoir area, and expects more soon due to “significantly higher melt” this spring. 

That means that a lot of campsites in the higher elevations will be clear up sooner than later.

Jauregui is also reminding everyone that while most of the state has moved to the ‘yellow’ or low threat stage, Summit County still has health orders which prohibit gatherings of over 20 people.  That is why right the Forest Service plans to limit campsites normally designated for 50-100 people, to 20 people at the max.

But with summer coming and cabin fever setting in, the ranger predicts Utah campgrounds will still be packed.

“I think this is going to be one of those years where we see all those folks that haven’t been out and about… now they’re ready to get out.”

Recreate safely

The Forest Service is also asking that everyone recreate responsibly during this time as well as some law enforcement and search and rescue teams may be limited due to the coronavirus.