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White River National Forest officials on Thursday issued the following press release on summer travel season kicking off and the needs to stay off still muddy or snow-packed trails and roads:
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (May 18, 2023) – With the summer motorized and mountain bike travel season beginning May 21 in most areas on the White River National Forest, forest officials are alerting visitors to a higher-than-usual chance this spring of encountering roads and trails that are damaged or impassable.
High snowpack means some roads opening May 21 are still covered in deep snow and impassable. Others may be muddy or snowy in places and susceptible to damage if people use them. High spring run-off may lead to washed-out or damaged roads and trails.
“We’ve had an amazing winter, and now we are starting to see impacts from the high amount of run-off that is underway,” said Recreation Program Manager Sam Massman. “Conditions in many parts of the forest are running later than we see in average years, so we’re asking visitors to please be patient and avoid using muddy roads and trails until they have time to dry out and harden.”
The Rifle Ranger District is typically a reliable early season destination, but this year much of the Flat Tops, Clinetops, and the Buford-Newcastle Road (NFSR 245) past the West Elk Trailhead are still inaccessible or impassable due to snow.
“Many of our roads in the Rifle Ranger District south of I-70 are still muddy and are impacted by reoccurring rain and run-off,” said Rifle District Ranger Kelsha Anderson. “Please plan on delaying trips to the District a few weeks to give snow a chance to melt and to allow roads and trails to dry out.”
In addition, some roads and trails are not scheduled to open until later in May or June because of snow at higher elevations or to reduce disturbance to wildlife such as calving elk.
E-bikes are considered motorized transportation on National Forest System lands and may only be ridden on roads and trails designated open to motorized vehicles. Traditional (non e-bike) bicycles are allowed on designated trails and roads where mechanized use is permitted.
Off-road and off-trail travel is prohibited for all motorized and mechanized vehicles on the White River National Forest.
All forest visitors are responsible for knowing when and where they can drive or ride. Ranger District offices have the latest site-specific information. Summer motor use maps and mountain bike maps are available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.