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November 24, 2012
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Vail Pass rec area open for winter

VAIL PASS, Colorado - The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area opened for the 2012-13 winter season on Friday.

Fees are collected 24 hours a day at self-pay fee stations located at all Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area trailheads. Season passes can be purchased at the Vail Pass trailhead on Saturdays and Sundays, or the Dillon Ranger District office in Silverthorne and the Holy Cross Ranger District office in Minturn during regular business hours.

• Individual day use pass: $6 per person.-

• Season pass: $40.-

• Children 15 and under: Free.-

Grooming occurs six nights a week on a rotating cycle of trails.

The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Fee Area encompasses over 50,000 acres and extends from Copper Mountain on the east, Vail Mountain on the west, Camp Hale on the south, and the I-70 corridor on the north. The program is the result of years of collaborative efforts between the Vail Pass Task Force - a citizen's advisory group - and the Forest Service.- The fees collected go toward trail grooming, free visitor maps, signs on motorized and non-motorized trails, parking lot management and snow removal, visitor information services, backcountry monitoring, and enforcement by Forest Service rangers.

Parking is available at Black Lakes Road for vehicles with trailers, and above the Colorado Department of Transportation rest area for skiers and snowshoers without trailers.- Overnight parking or camping is prohibited at the Vail Pass Trailhead except for those who are accessing the 10th Mountain Huts. Hut users should park at the top of the Black Lakes Road starting below the Forest Service Fee Station. Parking is available on a first come first serve basis - those arriving after the parking lot is full must wait for the first available parking space or leave for another trailhead. Parking on the east side of Interstate 70 at Exit 190 and at the Colorado Department of Transportation sand shed is prohibited.-

The three Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area trailheads out of Camp Hale include Pando, Main Camp Hale, and Camp Hale South. People with snowmobile trailers are encouraged to park at the pull-through off of Highway 24 at the Main Camp Hale Trailhead. Pando and Camp Hale South traditionally provide access for non-motorized users due to the limited parking area.

Use avalanche gear, carry a map, respect trail signage and non-motorized areas, and practice conservation of terrain when skiing and riding in the backcountry. Rubber tired or wheeled vehicles are prohibited on Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area trails from November 15 to May 20.

Asbestos was discovered in the valley floor of Camp Hale during the fall of 2013. There are restrictions in place until the area is covered with at least 1 foot of snowpack. Until that occurs the area north of Pando is close to human entry and travel is restricted to system roads and trails in the southern portion of the valley. For more information about these restrictions please contact the Dillon Ranger District Office in Silverthorne, CO at 970-468-5400 or the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District in Minturn, CO at 970-827-5715.

The White River National Forest website has recreation and trail information available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/. For further information, call Jon Hare at 970-948-9803.

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The VailDaily Updated Nov 24, 2012 02:40AM Published Nov 24, 2012 02:31AM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.