Sno parks the latest recreation areas overrun with vehicles

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U.S. Forest Service photo

Record-setting crowds continue to cause big parking messes at sno parks in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, with forest officials now advising people to save their trips for weekdays.

Forest recreation areas have been overwhelmed much of the COVID-19 pandemic as throngs of people look for a close, outdoor option for getting out of their homes.

The Forest Service said with parking lots already full by 9 most mornings, people have been parking illegally on the roads leading to the sno parks, hindering access for emergency responders, snowplows and residents.

Especially under pressure this time are the Cabin Creek, Salmon La Sac and Lake Kachess sno parks along Interstate 90, where tow trucks have been kept busy removing illegally parked vehicles.

It’s been a familiar story almost since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Through much of the summer, illegal parking near trailheads into the Enchantments caused significant problems.

That led to stepped-up enforcement of illegally parked vehicles on Icicle Road and elsewhere and similar requests for people to try visiting on weekdays.  

In early October, the Forest Service said hundreds of illegally parked vehicles along the North Cascades Scenic Highway were causing a safety hazard as people visited trailheads there.

With winter access limited on most of those trails, the sno parks are now bearing the brunt of the get-out crowds.