Memorial Day feast or famine?

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

This Memorial Day weekend will look a little different for travelers in search of an outdoor experience.

A handful of campgrounds and hundreds of thousand of acres of public land remain closed as a result of last year's Rim Fire, and many lakes and rivers are looking anemic as the Central Sierra works through a third straight drought year.

Nonetheless, local tourism officials are upbeat about the weekend's economic outlook, noting that the majority of outdoor destinations are still open and most area lakes are still fully operational.

Tuolumne County Visitor's Bureau Director Nanci Sikes said that the Mother Lode definitely gets more people coming than going for the holiday and that's no different this year.

Hotels received many reservations on Tuesday and Sikes predicted her staffers will need to make a lot of calls to find accommodations for visitors toward the end of the week.

Water levels

"Low water levels will affect us," Sikes said. "We haven't seen it yet, but it will affect us."

Indeed, New Melones' popular Tuttletown boat launch is on its last legs. Boaters are already launching from the lowest of three boat launches and the administration office said if the water drops another 17 feet, it will close.

However, the launch will remain open for the weekend and Tuttletown will be open for both camping and boating over Memorial Day weekend. The New Melones Marina is in full operation for boat rentals, fuel and food.

The Glory Hole campgrounds are full. The New Melones administration office did caution boaters to look out for islands and trees uncovered by the low water.

Don Pedro Reservoir is fully operational for Memorial Day weekend, including all campsites, boat launches and marinas. Fleming Meadows Campground is full, but Moccasin Point and Blue Oaks campgrounds still had availability as of Tuesday.

Pinecrest Lake is fully operational, but it's campgrounds are somewhat limited now by the Stanislaus National Forest.

For the complete story, see the May 21, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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