White River National Forest winter motor vehicle season begins Nov. 23 | SummitDaily.com

White River National Forest winter motor vehicle season begins Nov. 23

A bald eagle flies above Lake Dillon late Tuesday morning, Peak One partially obscured by clouds in the background, as seen from a fishing boat during one of the last days of open water fishing this year.

The White River National Forest's winter motor vehicle use season begins Nov. 23 and ends May 20. During the winter season, all wheeled vehicles, including bikes, are limited to plowed routes or specially opened routes.

Winter motor vehicle use maps identify routes and areas designated for "over the snow" motor vehicle travel, available free at all ranger district locations. Seasonal closures are in place to protect road quality and public safety and to provide critical winter habitat for wildlife.

The Vail Pass area switched to winter use and "over the snow" vehicles Nov. 15. The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, which traditionally opens the day after Thanksgiving, will start charging fees when sufficient snow has fallen to begin grooming operations. Season passes are now available for purchase at the Eagle-Holy Cross and Dillon Ranger District offices for $40. Day passes will be available at Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area trailheads for $6.

During the winter months, snowmobile clubs groom many roads as a public service using volunteer time and both private and public funding sources, such as the Colorado Parks and Wildlife snowmobile program.

Fat-tire biking is allowed on roads open to wheeled vehicles that are plowed. Currently, all trails are closed to fat-tire bikes in the winter in accordance with the White River National Forest 2011 Travel Management Plan.

The forest is working with the local International Mountain Biking Association representatives who will lead a public process and develop a potential proposal for winter routes that would be open to fat tire biking.

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Until then, forest users are asked to obtain and adhere to the motor vehicle us maps and special orders to provide for visitor safety and protect underlying vegetation and wildlife habitat.

More information can be found at local ranger districts or at the White River National Forest homepage.