Winter & Backcountry Recreation Safety

Public lands are for everyone to enjoy. Each year people get hurt or even die in the backcountry by not being prepared! Plan ahead and learn tips, techniques and strategies for avoiding winter hazards. 

Before Your Trip:

  • A man rides on a snowmobile on a groomed winter rec trailCheck for road closures and highway travel information.
  • Check the avalanche forecast ( for the zone you are going to be traveling in.
  • Make a plan with terrain selection and route planning that fits the skill levels of your entire party.
  • Be prepared for changing weather/snow conditions.
  • Have a Plan B! Have a contingency plan in case Plan A fails.
  • Carpool to minimize congestion at trailheads.
  • If possible, avoid recreating on busy weekends, and choose more quiet times to explore busy areas.
  • Respect ski area uphill policies.
  • If you are new to the sport, hire a guide or find a mentor to teach you the skills.

At the Trailhead:

  • Cars parked along a snow embankment at Vail PassCheck trailhead signage for any updated area information.
  • Be considerate of other users, and park to allow the maximum amount of vehicles to use the parking area.
  • Park legally- if the lot is full travel to your Plan B.
  • PACK IT IN – PACK IT OUT! Many trailheads do not have trash service so be responsible for taking your own waste home. This goes for your 4-legged friends too! Please be preapred to pick up and pack out your pets poop.
  • BE KIND, SAY HI! You will encounter all types of recreationists, so please be respectful of all user groups.

Terrain Awareness:

  • A solo skier against a purple sky with snow at Vale PassDo not ski or ride above other groups, especially on steep terrain.
  • Look out for all users in avalanche terrain, not just your group.
  • Expose only one person at a time to potential avalanche terrain.
  • Be aware that your impacts on the snow can cause avalanches across the slope on other users. Spatial awareness is key!

Responsibility Code:

  • Carry and know how to use avalanche rescue gear.
  • Obey all posted signs and area designations detailed.
  • Visitors must understand and comply with area use restrictions – e.g. snowmobilers are not allowed to operate in non-motorized areas
  • Always stay in control and maintain the ability to stop.
  • Stack your tracks, terrain conservation benefits all!
  • Snowmobile riders stopped and chatting in the early morning.Communicate with other parties that are recreating in the same area.
  • Yield to up-hill traffic and snow cats.
  • Ride/hike single file on the right and pass cautiously on the left.
  • Use established pick-up and drop-off areas.
  • Do not stop where you obstruct roads and trails or are not visible to other users.
  • Stow sled tow ropes when not towing a skier/rider.


Go to Winter Recreation Opportunities at White River National Forest.