CDOT warns backcountry users: Watch where you park


By Lisa Schwantes
Colorado Department of Transportation

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance personnel met late last year with law enforcement officers at the summit of U.S. 550 Red Mountain Pass in southwest Colorado to discuss possible solutions to illegally parked vehicles along the shoulders of highways and mountain passes. The Colorado State Patrol and local sheriffs have the authority to tow and/or ticket vehicles that impede snow removal operations. 

CDOT asks that vehicle owners take care when parking before recreating outdoors. Poorly parked vehicles prevent CDOT maintenance workers from safely clearing roads of snow and ice, and present safety hazards for motorists or commercial traffic on nearby roadways. CDOT urges vehicle owners to watch where you park.

When searching for areas to park vehicles or trailers, the public is reminded to do so safely and lawfully. Anyone leaving a vehicle unattended on the side of the road runs the risk of breaking the law, being fined and having their vehicle towed away by law enforcement. Vehicle owners are urged to take heed of “no parking” signs. Parking areas need to be kept open with no vehicles or trailers so that plows and heavy equipment can be turned around safely by maintenance personnel.

Backcountry users should park only in clearly marked, designated parking areas. While some areas along the highway may appear to provide ample room to park, CDOT warns vehicle owners that they run the risk of being trapped with large snow piles pushed by plows. Vehicles left on the side of the road also make plowing operations difficult for road maintenance crews. 

Before heading into the high country, backcountry users should be aware of avalanche conditions. Visit for current snow condition forecasts. When parking, look for caution signs at avalanche areas that indicate no stopping or standing at the location. These areas are prone to snow slides. The slide areas are also often at locations where avalanche control operations may be planned. Never park vehicles or trailers on the side of the road at these potential avalanche sites.

Obey the law 

Backcountry users are advised that when leaving vehicles on the shoulder of the road, they are at risk of being fined and their vehicle being towed. Owners who leave vehicles unattended on the side of the road are at risk of obstructing avalanche control missions and the operation of heavy equipment. Obstructing highway operations is in violation of state law. 

For more information or to read the Colorado law in its entirety, visit: