By Officer Nadeau, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement
Snowmobiling season is in full swing on the Medicine Bow National Forest. Your public lands offer some of the best snowmobiling opportunities around, with deep powder and miles of groomed trails. The Medicine Bow National Forest would like to remind you of the importance of proper preparation for your next snowmobiling excursion.
- Wyoming residents and non-residents are required to register purchase a Wyoming registration sticker before operating their snowmobile or other over snow vehicle in Wyoming. To register your snowmobile, visit Wyoming State Trails online at wyotrails.state.wy.us or call (877) 996-7275. Registration can also be purchased in person at various locations throughout the state. These purchase locations are listed on the State Trails website. The fees generated from your registration are used to create and maintain trails for you to enjoy.
- Avalanche awareness is critical to a safe and enjoyable riding experience. Before you ride, check avalanche conditions in your area. Many areas have current avalanche danger conditions listed on www.avalanche.org. The Medicine Bow National Forest has an avalanche conditions observation website http://www.jhavalanche.org/mbow/index.php. Always be prepared for avalanche conditions by carrying an avalanche transponder and avalanche probes on your person at all times and familiarize yourself this equipment. If possible, take an avalanche training course.
- It is essential that you are always aware of where you are riding. Failure to do so can result in life threatening situations. Weather in the Rocky Mountains can be unpredictable and if you become lost, conditions can quickly turn treacherous. Additionally, some areas are closed to snowmobiles in order to preserve wildlife habitat, reduce user conflicts, and protect untrammeled wilderness. Wilderness areas and wilderness study areas are closed to all motorized vehicles including snowmobiles. Entering a closed area is illegal and violators may be prosecuted. Visit your local Forest Service office to obtain maps so you can familiarize yourself with legal and safe riding areas. If you observe someone riding in a closed area, contact the local Forest Service office.
- Do not harass or pursue wildlife, livestock, or domesticated animals. Not only are such actions illegal, they ruin the experience of other Forest visitors and cause great stress to wildlife. If you observe someone harassing wildlife, contact Wyoming Game and Fish at 1-877-943-3847. If you observe someone harassing livestock or domesticated animals contact your local county sheriff’s office.
- Be prepared for any and all situations before you set out. Familiarize yourself with how your snowmobile operates and ensure you have spare components such as a drive belt and spark plugs. Fuel your snowmobile completely before each ride. Wear warm, layered clothing, with a wicking layer as a base. A helmet and goggles are essential protective equipment for riding, whether you’re riding on groomed trails or fresh powder. A GPS can be very beneficial, but ensure you have spare batteries or a means to recharge it. Do not solely rely on a smartphone as a GPS. Bring cold-weather survival gear, such as fire starting equipment and a survival blanket in addition to a flashlight and emergency signaling tools. Always ride with a buddy and inform someone when you expect to arrive home so they can watch for your safe return.
With proper preparation, you will be ready to enjoy your National Forests safely and pass on a tradition of land stewardship and epic riding to the next generation. Welcome to the Medicine Bow National Forest!