Forest Service bans camping at popular hot springs

Woman picking up trash in forest
(Image credit: Getty)

Authorities are set to ban overnight camping at the Weir Creek Hot Springs, a popular tourist destination located on the border between Montana and Idaho. The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is making the move in the wake of concerns over public health, safety and potential damage to natural resources. 

The order is likely to be enacted this week, and will result in entry to the springs being restricted between 8pm and 6am. There will, however, be a grace period for outreach and education.

“Unfortunately, a significant portion of the visitors to these hot springs do not follow responsible recreation guidelines, and some choose to participate in illegal behavior,” explained Lochsa-Powell District Ranger Brandon Knapton (as reported by Montana Public Radio (opens in new tab)). “Sanitation, vandalism and natural resource damage complaints are common at both locations. These issues range from littering and dispersed camping violations to illegal drug and alcohol use, and improper human waste disposal.”

Weir Creek Hot Springs – located on Idaho's upper Lochsa River corridor – have become a popular destination thanks to their easy accessibility. Unfortunately, that's resulted in State Police and Forest Service Law Enforcement officers reporting an increase in complaints regarding litter, vandalism and use of drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine. 

The Forest Service say that a previous camping ban at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs (which is also located in the Lochsa-Powell area, and has faced similar issues) has had positive results.

In a previous life, Richard spent over a decade on market-leading sci-fi/fantasy magazine SFX, where he talked movies, TV and books with some of the biggest names in the genre. Having swapped Star Wars and Star Trek for the great outdoors, he's worked on Advnture since it launched in July 2020, and looks after the day-to-day running of the site.