Drew Bakgaard cleans up after breakfast while his dog Luka licks a skillet — which Bakgaard calls “the pre-rinse cycle” — while camping at Gold Basin Campground on Friday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Drew Bakgaard cleans up after breakfast while his dog Luka licks a skillet — which Bakgaard calls “the pre-rinse cycle” — while camping at Gold Basin Campground on Friday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Closed for 5 years, Gold Basin Campground is open again

It was closed due to potential landslides. It’s the biggest campground on the Mountain Loop Highway.

VERLOT — Sunlight broke through mossy tree branches Friday morning, illuminating thick campfire smoke floating through the air at the Gold Basin Campground.

About half of the 75 or so spaces were filled with tents and RVs. This summer is the first time in five years that people have been allowed to stay at the campsite along the Mountain Loop Highway, about 14 miles east of Granite Falls.

Gold Basin closed soon after the Oso landslide that killed 43 people in March 2014.

Officials worried about another slide happening on the bank of the South Fork Stillaguamish opposite from the Gold Basin campground. A hill on that side of the river is geologically similar to the one that fell near Oso.

The U.S. Forest Service partnered with Southern Methodist University to study the ridge. The report, finished this spring, followed a few years of research.

Experts determined the campground was safe to open. It will continue to be monitored, said Dave Redman, the recreation program manager for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Gold Basin is the forest’s largest campground, with about 90 spaces. Nearly a dozen are going to remain closed because the river has moved too close.

In his 40 years with the U.S. Forest Service, Redman has seen about 15 feet of riverbank disappear there.

Other campsites along the Mountain Loop Highway also are in danger of washing away. The U.S. Forest Service hopes to make up for that loss with a campground on what was once Camp Silverton.

It had been a children’s camp since the 1940s with cabins, A-frames and a dining hall. Most of the buildings were demolished a few weeks ago.

Tracey Silla of Everett leaves her shoes outside as she sets up sleeping bags and pads in her tent at Gold Basin Campground on Friday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tracey Silla of Everett leaves her shoes outside as she sets up sleeping bags and pads in her tent at Gold Basin Campground on Friday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The hope is to place around 40 campsites on the land. There’s already electricity, water and the potential for internet access.

“But we want to be cognizant,” Redman said. “We know that we can’t expand recreation willy-nilly because it’s going to have effects on the ecosystems.”

Gold Basin was reopened about a month ago, without a public announcement. For now, sites are claimed on a first-come-first-served basis. Even though some sites are closed, visitors can still walk around all of Gold Basin.

“We’re really confident that during the summertime especially, this is a safe environment to be in,” Redman said.

An estimated $80,000 was spent restoring the land. Trees that had died were cut down, picnic tables were replaced and overgrown plants were pruned.

“Being closed for five years caused a lot of problems in the campground, as you can imagine,” Redman said.

This map shows where the camp sites are closed at Gold Basin. (U.S. Forest Service)

This map shows where the camp sites are closed at Gold Basin. (U.S. Forest Service)

Cleanup is set to be finished by next summer.

In the past, the campground was open from May until October. Campsites are expected to be available for reservation again next year.

During the busy summer months, campers set up any place they can find along the Mountain Loop Highway. Closing Gold Basin didn’t really effect that, because it’s always been that way, Redman said.

At least now there’s a little extra room for those who want an escape to the woods.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
9-hour Edmonds standoff with knife-wielding man ends in arrest

The man reportedly threatened to kill his family. Police spent hours trying to get him to come outside.

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman who lit her own Edmonds doll store on fire gets house arrest

Connie Bigelow, 54, was sentenced Friday in federal court for lighting her business on fire to collect insurance money.

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is no longer required reading in Mukilteo

The school board on Monday voted to remove it from the list for ninth-graders, at the urging of teachers and students.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

Most Read