ASPEN - The White River National Forest will switch from wheeled travel on the open road system to over-the-snow vehicles - those with a ski and/or tracks - Nov. 23.
The snow season regarding the road system will continue until May 20. Roads are closed to wheeled vehicles regardless of whether a gate is open or closed. The rule is laid out in the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan, which was completed in March 2011.
The purpose of the plan was to identify the transportation system for both winter and summer seasons. The plan identified motorized and non-motorized routes across the forest. Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps have been produced for the entire forest. These maps show forest roads, trails and areas that have been designated for over-the-snow-motor-vehicle use. The maps also show plowed routes open to wheeled motor vehicles as well as any seasonal restrictions that may apply. Winter travel for foot, snowshoeing and cross country skiing activities are not limited to designated routes and therefore are not included on the maps.
Several roads are used as groomed snowmobile and ski routes. Protecting the snow surface is imperative to providing a quality groomed surface, especially in times of low snow levels. While there might not be snow cover in many places across the forest yet, please follow travel designations shown on winter maps to help maintain road surfaces. Traveling on muddy roads creates rutting and erosion, and driving on such routes this time of year can create maintenance backlogs next summer.
There are many new areas that require winter motorized travel to stay on designated routes that we have not had in the past. Be sure to "know before you go" by contacting your local ranger station where you may obtain a copy of a winter map.
Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps for all the Ranger Districts on the White River National Forest are available at each office. These maps are free and available online at www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.