Winter conditions still exist on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland (MBRTB). The impact of ski area closures and changing societal conditions due to COVID-19 have prompted many public questions regarding current use of National Forest System lands.
Planning and proper preparation are key to enjoying your National Forests and Grasslands safely. Following is some information about winter access and current conditions:
- Follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while you recreate in National Forests or Grasslands.
- Forest and Grassland visitors will find limited access for roads, trails, and recreation sites, which is typical on the MBRTB for this time of year.
- When ski areas such as Steamboat and Snowy Range are not open to the public, they are not providing any public services. The public may not be allowed access out of the concern for public health and safety.
- Uphill access and fat bike use varies by ski area and is subject to change based on conditions. The best source of this information is directly from the resorts themselves.
- Since ski areas are not offering public services, they are also not offering patrol services. Just as in any area of the National Forest, users are responsible for their own safety.
- The public’s use of snowmobiles within ski areas is always prohibited, even when the ski areas are closed.
- Measurable snow can mean avalanches, even on previously groomed slopes. Follow Colorado Avalanche Information Center for updates and alerts, https://avalanche.state.co.us/.
- Many National Forest System roads are impassable due to seasonal closures, snow drifts, waterlogged roadbeds, down trees, or other debris. Wheeled motor vehicle users may not travel off designated roads and trails or through wet areas. Refer to Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Maps for routes that are designated open to motor vehicle travel.
- The USDA Forest Service does not plow National Forest System roads. Plowing by independent contractors or landowners requires a special use permit. Contact your local Forest Service office for site-specific information.
- Wilderness areas are closed to all motorized vehicles including snowmobiles.
- In the event of an incident requiring medical attention, search or rescue, the response will be coordinated through the appropriate Sheriff’s Office, as usual.
- Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High-risk or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.
For more site-specific information contact the following Forest Service offices or visit our website at https://fs.usda.gov/mbr.
- Forest Supervisor’s Office, (307) 745-2300
- Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District, (307) 326-5258
- Douglas Ranger District, (307) 358-4690
- Hahns Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District, (970) 870-2299
- Laramie Ranger District, (307) 745-2300
- Parks Ranger District, (970) 723-2700
- Yampa Ranger District, (970) 638-4516