Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges recreationists to prepare, practice safety on frozen waters

Staff Report
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Buoys line up on the frozen top of Dillon Reservoir near the dam.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News archive

While frozen waters provide unique recreational opportunities, they can also pose significant danger.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging Coloradans to take precautions and bring the correct equipment when looking to ice fish, skate, sled or snowshoe on frozen bodies of water.

“When you fall into icy waters, cold water immersion shock can cause you to involuntarily gasp and inhale water,” said Grant Brown, Colorado Parks & Wildlife boating safety program manager in a news release. “Your body will conserve heat by reducing blood flow to your arms and legs, making it difficult to swim and pull yourself out of a hole in the ice. Bringing the correct equipment like a life jacket, ice picks and warm clothes can save your life.”

Parks and wildlife says it’s important to check weather and ice conditions with whatever agency manages the body of water before trekking onto it. According to the news release, recreationists should always assume unsafe ice conditions may exist, as a number of factors can alter the thickness of ice at different points on the water. Parks and wildlife recommends drilling test holes to measure thickness, with four inches generally considered to be safe for ice fishing and skating.

When people are able to venture out onto frozen lakes, parks and wildlife urges recreationists to bring the right equipment, dress in warm clothes and layers, and to wear a life jacket. Some other essential items include a whistle, rope and ice picks, which can all aid in rescue efforts should someone fall through the ice.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers ice fishing and ice safety classes during the winter, which can be found on the agency’s online calendar. For more information on ice conditions and ice safety tips, go to

This story is from

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.