DENVER — Ski resorts are bustling with activity. A key highway into Yellowstone is closed because parts of the road have seen more than 25 feet of snow. And campgrounds are feverishly removing snow from campsites to clear the way for visitors.
Welcome to Memorial Day weekend in much of the West.
The traditional kickoff of the summer season will have a decidedly wintry feel in the Rocky Mountains, as well as California's Sierra Nevada, because of a lingering record snowfall.
Epic snowpack in parts of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and California is forcing many tourists to abandon the annual rites of launching their summer holidays with a camping trip. Others plan to take advantage of prolonged skiing and snowshoeing this strange spring.
In Denver, Brooke Schmidgall had her sights set on high-country camping this weekend as she shopped for gear at a sporting goods store.
"I'll bring my snowshoes," she said. "We have a big family tent. It will be nice and warm."
Rocky Mountain National Park's popular Trail Ridge Road is closed because of 17-foot snow drifts. Normally, holiday motorists can cruise at altitudes surpassing 11,000 feet but not this year.
Janelle Smith, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain region, recommended that campers consider heading to lower elevations — like Arizona or New Mexico. Campers in Idaho were being warned to check first before heading to camping areas — or risk being turned back by lingering drifts or muddy, impassable roads.
In Oregon, some resorts were still trying to dig out cabins — let alone campgrounds — from snowpack.
Yellowstone National Park has just one campground open.
While the snow is bad for some campers, it's great for skiers in Colorado and elsewhere.