No summer plans? Love the outdoors? Sitting Bull Falls needs camp hosts

A shortage of staff forced the temporary closure of a popular Lincoln National Forest recreation site last week, as the Guadalupe Ranger District works to hire both personnel and camp hosts.

Amanda Fry, public affairs officers for Lincoln National Forest, said May 16 Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area is now open on a limited schedule. The site is open from 8:30 a.m. to to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday and closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

The recreation area is being monitored but visitors to the site should be prepared for its remoteness in any emergency situations, Fry said.

Sitting Bull Falls features a spring-fed waterfall, swimming and hiking opportunities to visitors. It's a popular summer destination which is why Fry said she hoped to see it open to full hours by Memorial Day.

To make that happen, Fry said the Park service is "working as quickly as we can," to find staff and camp hosts. Staff or camp hosts are typically in charge of opening the access gate, collecting fees, monitoring the site and aiding visitors.

Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area found at the Lincoln National Forest in Carlsbad, New Mexico
Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area found at the Lincoln National Forest in Carlsbad, New Mexico

"In order to prevent safety and health issues, we will be temporarily limiting access to the falls. Normal hours will resume as soon as possible, said Jennifer Thomas, district ranger for Guadalupe Ranger District, in a news release.

As a remedy to worker shortages, staff from other areas of the Lincoln National Forest are detailed to Sitting Bull Falls temporarily. Fry said the Park Service may also all on its Job Corps personnel to help.

"We are putting a plan in place just to kind of Band-Aid it and get it opened," Fry said, recognizing the recreation site is among the most visited public lands site in the region. "We're working to enhance onsite management, but we do realize Memorial Day is coming up and that's one of our peak visitors seasons."

For now hikers can access the trailhead by hiking half a mile from the access gate if it is closed, barring access to the parking lot.

Anyone taking advantage of the trails should continue to practice smart outdoor preparation and planning; that includes letting someone know where they plan to hike, packing in plenty of food and water and First Aid kits. Cell phone service in the area can be spotty, officials warned.

Applications for camp hosts now being accepted for Sitting Bull Falls

Applications for camp hosts are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/lincoln or by contacting Thomas at 575-630-3010.

Fry said often those applying for camp host are retirees who can be available between three or months during the peak summer season. Camp hosts are afforded a stipend and given access to an RV hookup while in charge of the site.

"If you want a place to camp for free, the cool thing about Sitting Bull Falls is you're able to be there ― it's a beautiful area," Fry said. "It's a day use area (for everyone else) but you are living there full-time."

Jessica Onsurez can be reached at jonsurez@gannett.com. Follow her on X at @jussGREAT.

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Camp hosts needed at Sitting Bull Falls