Rains and cooler temperatures over the last couple of weeks have consistently lowered drought severity ratings and fire danger throughout the park, leading to this management decision. However, much of the park is still within the moderate drought category, the lowest drought category used by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Visitors should take care to ensure that all fires remain within designated campfire rings and grills and to extinguish fires by mixing water with embers in fire rings and grills.
Backpackers should be aware that drought conditions affect the availability of water at springs at backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. At some locations where there is a running spring, it can take more than five minutes to fill a quart-sized bottle. Many of the springs in the higher elevations are running significantly slower than normal at this time and the following backcountry campsites are currently known to be without water: 5, 13, 16, 26, Russel Field Shelter and Mollies Ridge Shelter.
New drought maps are released every Thursday and available at droughtmonitor.unl.edu. The park’s backcountry office is available at 865.436.1297.