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Pagosa Springs
Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Winter is here: Local resources can help you prepare and stay safe

By Lorena Williams | Forest Service

With winter comes snowy adventures and a new set of activities to enjoy. Winter also brings challenges, changes in road and campground status, and new safety considerations. Here are a few resources and tips to help you prepare and stay safe when you head out to the forest. 

Roads: Most forest motorized trails and roads are closed for the season. These seasonal closures protect the road surface from damage as well as protect critical wildlife habitat. You can find out a road’s status by visiting the Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps and Road Conditions Web pages. Remember — winter weather can change quickly. Tire chains may be required. Slow down when driving in winter conditions and use extra care while driving and parking.

Camping: Most San Juan National Forest campgrounds can’t be accessed in winter and visitors are encouraged to call the district office for details. Campers are reminded to practice Leave No Trace, be prepared for limited services and pack out all garbage. Limited services means there will not be camp hosts, trash pickup, water, power or bathrooms available. The stay limit on the San Juan National Forest is 14 days.

Backcountry recreation: Avalanches can strike even the most prepared winter recreationists. Check conditions with your local avalanche center before venturing out. Remember that avalanche equipment is only as helpful as your training and decision-making in avalanche terrain. Know how to use your gear and respect your physical limitations. Let people know where you are going. Get avalanche educated or hire a guide before you visit the backcountry.

Plan ahead: Know before you go and choose your destination wisely. Have a backup plan in place in case you arrive to find a crowded trailhead or unsafe conditions. Be certain that you have the proper safety gear for your winter adventure, including extra layers, a shovel, food and water. Consider your vehicle as part of your winter emergency gear. Be sure that your tires are ready for the snow and carry extra clothing and a sleeping bag in case you get stuck.

For information on current fire restrictions, conditions and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874, visit the forest website or follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook).

For information on current fire restrictions, conditions and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874.

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