Warm weather requires extra caution by snowmobiles on Vail Pass
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – During the past two weeks, U.S. Forest Service backcountry rangers have issued 10 citations to snowmobilers for riding in closed areas at the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area (WRA).
Warmer weather creates constantly changing conditions at Vail Pass, and trail signage does not always reflect current conditions. Regardless, snowmobiles are prohibited in areas where packed snow cover totals fewer than six inches. Individual users are responsible for knowing where they can and cannot go in the Vail Pass WRA.
All snowmobile users must have a valid snowmobile registration, pay the appropriate fees for the Vail Pass WRA, adhere to all travel management regulations and operate only those tracked vehicles designed for snow travel. Rangers will continue patrols and provide on-site visitor information until the snow melts.
Every year, many people get into tough situations at Vail Pass on a snowmobile because they are not prepared for unexpected situations. The Forest Service offers these guidelines for safe snowmobile travel, regardless of destination or length of excursion:
• Respect the land. Know where you are going and plan ahead. Determine all travel restrictions and the location of all wilderness areas. Get to know the area you are traveling in, and stay on legal routes. Check the weather and daily avalanche report for your area before you take off. If a winter storm kicks up you could easily become lost in a blizzard. Getting lost in whiteouts can happen to anyone.
• Respect others. Have a travel plan of your destination, route and estimated return time. Let a friend or family member know your plan. If you’re hurt, lost or your snowmobile breaks down, searchers will know where to look for you. Always check in when you return so people don’t start looking for you unnecessarily.
• Respect yourself. Bring a first-aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, knife, compass, map, waterproof matches, highway flares, avalanche beacon, portable shovel, water and food, all in a waterproof sack.
Consult with the local office of the U.S. Forest Service to aid in trip-planning. Information about Forest Service offices and National Forest opportunities is available on the Internet at http://www.fs.fed.us.