Free camping this weekend at Darrington bluegrass grounds

DARRINGTON — The Darrington Bluegrass Music Park is open for free camping Memorial Day weekend.

The park’s owner, the Bluegrass and Country Music Makers Association, decided to open the site after hearing that landslide concerns had prompted the closure of one of the largest U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the area.

The bluegrass music park is on Highway 530 just west of Darrington and about 10 miles east of the Oso mudslide, which killed 41 people. For about a month after the March 22 landslide, disaster response personnel used the park to stage equipment and pitch tents.

“The whole world came to our aid, so we’d like to help out how we can,” said Shellie Jones, a board member with the Bluegrass and Country Music Makers Association. The association organizes the Darrington Bluegrass Festival each summer.

Camping at the roughly 40-acre music park will be free from Friday through Memorial Day on Monday. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Recreational vehicles and campers are welcome, but there are no hookups on site. Fires are only permitted in free-standing pits.

Campers are being asked to take out as much of their garbage as possible. Volunteers will pick up and remove what is left, she said.

The camping is free, but the association has to cover the costs of opening the site and removing campers’ trash. The association officials at the park will be accepting cash and check donations to offset those expenses, Jones said.

The park is about 10 miles north of the Gold Basin Campground, which the U.S. Forest Service has closed while it determines the stability of an adjacent slope with a history of landslides.

The campground has 89 campsites and sits along the South Fork Stillaguamish River.

The Forest Service closed the site pending a review after the catastrophic Oso mudslide.

“It’s going to take some time” to complete the study, which has not started, said Carol Gladsjo, the service’s acting Darrington District ranger.

She couldn’t say when the campground will reopen.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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