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Home » Conservation » Backcountry Snowsports Initiative » Winter Travel Management

Winter Travel Management


Where/When is planning taking place?

  • San Juan National Forest - Poised to be the first forest in Colorado to initiate formal Winter Travel Managment Planning in 2017.  Exact timeline to be determined but we'll keep you posted via our Action Alerts!  We'll also be working to gather winter recreation data on the San Juan so keep an eye out for mapping workshops in your area.
  • Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests - Beginning Forest Plan revision in 2016 but will not include formal winter planning.  Encourage the GMUG to consider OSV suitability during this planning process!
  • Rio Grande National Forest - Will NOT include formal winter travel planning during their Forest Plan revision process but they will be considering OSV suitability during this planning process which will lay the groundwork for future travel management decisions.
  • Pike San Isabel National Forest - Will NOT include winter recreation in their current Travel Management Plan revision. They will likely begin forest planning after the summer Travel Management Plan is complete (2020?) and intiate Winter Travel planning after that.
  • Across the Nation: Only a few forests have begun Winter Travel Management Planning under the new rule including the Bitterroot, Lassen, Tahoe, Eldorado, and Stanislaus National Forests.


Make the call - We need your help to encourage Colorado Forests to complete Winter Travel Managment Planning as soon as possible!  Email your Forest Supervisor or District Ranger today and tell them why winter planning is urgent and important to you.


Pike San Isabel National Forest - Email  |  Phone Numbers

Grand Mesa, Uncompaghre, Gunninson National Forests - Email  |  Phone Numbers

Rio Grande National Forest - Email  |  Phone Numbers

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests - Email  |  Phone Numbers

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests - Email  |  Phone Numbers


The Current State of Winter Travel Planning in CO -  BSI and partner organizations have been working to compile the best available data on current winter travel plans, OSV restrictions, and use recommendations.  However, it is still uncertain which of these plans will actually meet the requirements of the new OSV rule (background info below) and which forests will need to complete winter travel planning.  Check out this overview of current designations, gaps in management, and opportunities to protect winter landscapes throughout Colorado.



January 2015 - The U.S. Forest Service finally announced the long-awaited Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Rule which now requires designation of roads, trails and areas where OSV use is allowed (snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles with tracks and/or skis).  Local forests and districts that do not have winter travel designations in place (many areas in Colorado) will be assessing the landscapes and developing OSV use maps in the near future.  Once the maps are published, OSV travel outside of those designated areas will be prohibited.

We want to thank all of our supporters who helped bring stronger language to the final rule by commenting this summer!  The agency received over 20,000 letters and specifically addressed comments regarding the backcountry hut system in Colorado.  The final rule and response to comments is available online here.

CMC's Backcountry Snowsports Initiative (BSI) was pleased to see positive changes in the final rule but now the real work begins.  With the national framework in place, winter travel planning now transitions to a local process where land managers will be gathering input and deciding which trails, skin tracks, ridgelines, powder bowls, tree runs, habitat areas and watersheds will be open or closed to OSV use.  We need local backcountry experts like you to weigh in which areas need protection, where conflicts are occurring, and how best to manage recreational uses on Colorado's winter landscapes.

In the coming months, BSI will be working to gather info on existing winter recreation and we need your help!

Where are current winter travel designations in place already? (White River NF, Rabbit Ears Pass, Cumbres Pass, etc.)  Are they appropriate?  Are they enforced well?
What areas/trails do you want to see protected?
Where are you seeing major conflict areas with OSV use?
What areas are appropriate for OSV and multi-use?
What areas have established OSV use that is well managed?

Email us your comments and look for a series of surveys this spring.  Thank you for your participation in this groundbreaking work which will influence winter recreation in Colorado for years to come.



More resources:

Upcoming Mapping Workshops


Forest Service Over Snow Vehicle Rule - Next Steps


OSV Rule Updates and Colorado Forest Analysis (BSI, 09/2015)


Winter Recreation on National Forest Lands (Winter Wildlands Alliance, 06/2015)


Winter Travel Management Best Practices (Winter Wildlands Alliance)


Fat Bike Best Practices (International Mountain Biking Association)


BSI Action List

Sign up for email Action Alerts, News, and Info on Winter Recreation Areas in your area!

Donate Now

Help us protect winter landscapes in Colorado! Your support will help BSI leverage funding to continue our important work on winter travel planning and access. Make a tax-deductible gift today.

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