Saturday, February 16, 2013

Officials: Wilderness is Off-Limits to Snowmobiles

Routt National Forest officials would like to remind snowmobilers that their machines, like all motorized equipment, are illegal in wilderness areas.

The 1964 Wilderness Act set aside wilderness as places to enjoy primitive adventure and solitude, as refuges from the sights and sounds of the mechanized world. Locally, recreationists can enjoy many forms of non-motorized activities in the Mount Zirkel, Sarvis Creek and Flat Tops Wilderness Areas.

“Every winter, there are a lot of snowmobilers trespassing into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, especially just north of Buffalo Pass,” said Kent Foster, Recreation Staff for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District. There are boundary signs in problem areas, and maps at winter trailheads, showing areas closed to snowmobiles. “We make the effort to inform riders but ultimately, it is their responsibility to know where they are and to avoid taking their machines into the wilderness,” Foster said.

Some have unfortunately chosen to ignore the signs. Last weekend the Forest Service ticketed six people for riding in the wilderness, with a total collateral fee of over $3,000. The minimum fine for riding snowmobiles in wilderness is $525; however, violations are punishable by fines of up to $5,000, six months in jail and the forfeiture of snowmobiles and other items involved.

Snowmobiling is a very popular activity in northern Colorado that attracts visitors from across the country and provides economic support to many local communities. The Routt National Forest provides around 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and hundreds of thousands of acres of off-trail areas on each of its three ranger districts for snowmobilers to enjoy.

For information or maps about winter recreation opportunities, please contact the Forest Service offices in Steamboat Springs at (970) 870-2299, Walden at (970) 723-8204, or Yampa at (970) 638-4516. Information is available at


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