Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area
This area has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and is a great place to recreate in the winter. Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area is open to motorized and non-motorized uses and requires that you purchase a day or season pass to enter the area. It is open from approximately November through May, snow conditions permitting (see our Winter Motor Vehicle Use Map for motorized over-snow dates). There are fee stations at all of the trailheads where you can purchase day or season passes. You can also purchase season passes at the Dillon Ranger District office. Maps are available at these locations and show users which routes are open to motorized and non-motorized travel. There are some groomed routes in this area.
This area covers 55,000 acres and offers 119 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails. This winter recreation area is managed by the USDA Forest Service as part of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004. The purpose of this program is to collect fees that help maintain and manage recreational areas and enhance visitor services and experiences on some public lands that receive high visitor numbers and use. 95% of the fees collected remain on site for management purposes. Because of this, Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area fees are not covered under Interagency/America the Beautiful Passes. Fees are collected per person for every person ages 16 and up:
Day pass $10
Season Pass $65
This is a multi-use recreation area. Please respect other users and always use Leave No Trace principles.
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 at our Winter and Backcountry Safety page.
Vail Pass Rec Area Map and general information:
*Visitors must understand and comply with area use restrictions – e.g. snowmobilers are not allowed to operate in non-motorized areas, shaded in blue on the trail map
- Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area Map (.pdf)
- Vail Pass Winter Recreation Guide (.pdf)
- Map for your mobile device: Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area Map via the Avenza map store.
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||Parking is available at Vail Pass and four locations off Highway 24 near Camp Hale. Space is limited and lots fill quickly.|
|Fees:||$10/Person/Day OR $65/Person/Season Pass
Fees are collected 7 days a week.
|Open Season:||Winter Over-the-Snow Travel Permitted: November 15 – May 20 (snow dependent) - Fees & Services begin: Sat after Thanksgiving through mid-April (snow dependent)|
|Restrictions:||Designated motorized and non-motorized areas. See Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps for motorized over-snow areas and dates.|
|Closest Towns:||Vail, CO; Redcliff, CO; Frisco, CO; Dillon, CO|
|Restroom:||Closed for renovation|
|Passes:||Passes required 7 days a week. Self-pay fee stations are located at all trailheads. Credit/Debit cards may be used to purchase passes at Vail Pass and at Camp Hale.|
|Operated By:||Forest Service|
From Silverthorne, CO head west for about 15 miles on I-70 and take Exit 190, Vail Pass Rest Area, and go to the rest area on the west side of I-70. Park in the designated area.
Plan ahead- restrooms at the CDOT Rest Area are closed for renovation, winter 2022-2023. There are no facilities at Vail Pass Winter Recreation parking areas.
The are parking areas with fee stations at Vail Pass, CO; Red Cliff, CO and at three different locations off Highway 24 at Camp Hale.
Transportation accidents are the leading cause of death in winter storms; prepare your vehicle for the winter season and know how to react if stranded or lost on the road.
Backcountry Winter Safety Tips:
Recreating in avalanche terrain means making responsible decisions about travel routes based on current snow and weather conditions:
- Get the Avalanche Forecast: before you venture out, get the forecast from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
- Get the Gear: always carry a beacon, probe and shovel- and know how to use them!
- Get the Training: take an online awareness program Know Before You Go or a field based class.
Parking is available at Vail Pass and four locations off Highway 24 near Camp Hale. Space is limited and lots fill quickly.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information