Morels in the West
The 2017 fire season is over: it was a huge and destructive season. Now we begin preparing for one of the fire’s benefits: morel mushrooms. 2018 promises to be an excellent year for morels in the West.
Normally we spend a few winter evenings downloading and organizing the previous year’s fires. We are doing laps with .kml, .kmz and argGIS files garnered from USFS and USGS websites. Fire maps are cross-referenced with land-use maps and then the fires located on private land or in a national park, designated wilderness or Indian reservation are removed. Additional fires are removed because they occurred on grasslands or in desert areas where morels don’t thrive. What remains is to try to find the best places to go mushroom hunting – these areas have car/road access, are not too steep, and offer lots of tree cover. Finally, elevation details and editorial recommendations are added to our favorite fires… this is our curation process.
A Different Animal
This year is quite different. There are soooo many fires! Classifying and curating the fires is just too large a job. We focused on Oregon and Washington and have easily found 90 fires worth foraging, many of them huge. Assuming Mother Nature cooperates with some moisture, they will certainly produce hundreds of millions of morels, if not billions.
Morel Burn Maps
NOTE: This year (2019) we have updated our maps! We no longer use a shared Google map interface. All historic burn maps are available in the new interface.
We are offering the following Google Maps of the the 2018 best morel hunting spots in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California. They are available with our Burn Morel E-book. A great read, but worth it for the maps alone!
The Curated 2018 Oregon Fire Map (2019 Burn Maps include historic fires) features about 75 promising forest fires from the summer of 2017. The Oregon map is sorted into the following categories:
- TOP BURNS – our dozen or so favorite burns. Each burn has a marker location in no particular order. In order to make this list the burn must look promising by satellite, meet our elevation guidelines, be on public land and have relatively easy access. There are two additional folders you may use to add extra data to the map:
- Prospective Areas: We have added some of our own commentary to the maps with advice on where and when to go. This is turned off by default (you may select to turn on).
- Perimeters: Definitely turn on this folder! It adds the perimeters to each burn so you can see the entire outline.
- BURNS OF INTEREST: These approximately 60 burns also look like promising burns. They may be smaller, steeper or harder to access than the top burns listed above. There are definitely lots of high quality burns here though. We have them roughly organized by elevation… so, the top of the list is good for spring and the bottom of the list for summer.
- WILDERNESS: These burns are located in National Wilderness Areas and offer their own challenges (all have different rules for picking, and commercial picking is not allowed). Generally we don’t hunt morels in these areas (and never in National Parks). This folder is turned off by default.
- UNLIKELY: These burns probably won’t produce many mushrooms or are off-limits. This folder is turned off by default.
The Curated 2018 Washington Fire Map (2019 Burn Maps include historic fires) is broken into two categories:
- LIKELY: Our 15 favorite fires in the sate of Washington. Most of these run in the middle of the state, from North to South in the Wenatchee National Forest and several have good access from Seattle.
- UNLIKELY: The 20 fires we would avoid this year.
The 2018 Northern California Fire Map and 2018 Idaho Fire Map are both sorted maps. They don’t have editorial comments with the burns (like the Oregon map), but, we did remove fires in tree-barren areas, dry areas, private land and designated Wilderness areas. That left 27 fires in California and 13 in Idaho.
The 2018 Montana Fire Map, 2018 Wyoming Fire Map and 2018 Utah Fire Map have all the fires from the 2017, unsorted.
With each fire you will have a fire perimeter and also the key features of the fire (names, IDs, links for more info, acreage, etc).
This year we have also curated fires along with hunting tips in our home state, Colorado! Last year we found burn morels at 9k+ elev in the Gutzler fire in late June. Learn more about Colorado burn morel maps here >