White River National Forest road winter closures in effect | AspenTimes.com

White River National Forest road winter closures in effect

Staff report
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The White River National Forest’s winter motor vehicle use season begins on Thanksgiving Day and ends May 20.

During the winter season, all wheeled vehicles (including bikes) are limited to plowed routes or routes opened through special order. Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps identify routes and areas designated for “over the snow” motor vehicle travel.

Motor Vehicle Use Maps are free and available at all ranger district offices. The Forest Service asks that users respect the shift from summer travel to winter even if the snowpack is low.

“Seasonal closures are in place to protect road quality, public safety and to provide critical winter habitat for wildlife,” according to aWhite River National Forest news release.

The Vail Pass area already switched to winter use and “over the snow” vehicles on Nov. 15. Season passes are now available for purchase at the Eagle-Holy Cross and Dillon Ranger District offices for $40. Day passes will be available at Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area trailheads for $6.

During the winter months, snowmobile clubs groom many roads as a public service using a combination of volunteer time, private, and partner funding, such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife snowmobile program. Users are asked to obey signs and travel restrictions.

Fat-tire biking is allowed on roads open to wheeled vehicles that are plowed. Currently, all trails are closed to fat-tire bikes in the winter in accordance with the White River National Forest 2011 Travel Management Plan.

“The forest is working with the local International Mountain Biking Association representatives who will lead a public process and develop a potential proposal for winter routes that would be open to fat tire biking,” according to White River National Forest. “IMBA is encouraging users and interested publics to work with local organizations on how the process will work and what routes can be considered or not.”

Until then, forest users are asked to obtain and adhere to the Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps and special orders to provide for visitor safety and protect underlying vegetation and wildlife habitat.

For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver and click on “Ranger Districts” in the upper right hand corner menu.