Snow Keeps Campgrounds Closed

The winter snow is receding and spring fever has many forest users excited to get outside and explore the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. Though snow may have thawed from some areas of the GMUG, forest officials are warning that most forest roads are still not accessible and could be impassable for some time due to ice, mud or snow. Forest travel on wet, muddy, or snow-covered roads can cause serious resource damage and safety concerns especially if visitors are unprepared. Even a few inches of snow can obscure icy roads and soft shoulders where vehicles can become stuck.

Grand Valley Visitor Center, clearing parking lot with help from CDOT. Photo: Danielle Cook

Forest officials are encouraging the public to minimize impacts to natural resources from travel on roads that are susceptible to rutting due to warmer weather and melting snowpack. Forest roads are easily damaged when saturated and wet especially with the continued precipitation the GMUG has experienced. Some higher elevation roads, motorized trails and campgrounds will open later than normal due to this year’s heavy snowpack. Some gates are still buried in snow, and roads are extremely wet and muddy. Please respect gates and closed areas and find alternate locations to recreate to allow muddy roads and trails time to dry out. Contact your local Ranger District for current conditions before heading out on your trip.

Ouray Ranger District conditions at the Spring Creek Trail. Photo: Kris Wist

“Forest roads are not constructed to be all-weather roads, so they can be easily damaged when wet, especially during years of above average snowpack as we have experienced this year” said Chris Phelps, a GMUG Engineer. “Ruts created by tires that are a mere inch deep can leave long lasting impressions that only increase with rain and erosion.”
Motorized and mechanized vehicle users are responsible for knowing when and where they can drive or ride. Motorized vehicle users are asked to obtain and adhere to routes shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs). MVUMS show which routes are open to motorized vehicles, which types of vehicles may be used, and season opening and closing dates. Hard copies of MVUMs are free and available at all forest offices and online here. Helpful information about planning a trip to the GMUG can be found on our Know Before You Go webpage at: Campground reservation information can be found here.

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