Winter motor vehicle use season begins on the White River National Forest this Wednesday, Nov. 23.
Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps identify routes and areas designated for “over the snow” motor vehicle travel and are available for free at all ranger districts. The Vail Pass area switched to winter use and “over the snow” vehicles on Nov. 15, but the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, which traditionally opens the day after Thanksgiving, will postpone charging fees until at least Dec. 1 or until sufficient snow has fallen to begin grooming operations.
During the winter season, all wheeled vehicles (including bicycles) are limited to plowed routes or those opened up through special order. Fat-tire mountain biking is also allowed on roads that are plowed and open to wheeled vehicles, though currently all trails are closed to fat-tire bikes during the winter, in accordance with the White River National Forest 2011 Travel Management Plan.
The Forest Service is presently working with local International Mountain Biking Association representatives to develop a potential proposal for winter routes that would be open to fat-tire snow biking. The mountain biking organization is encouraging users and interested members of the public to work with local agencies on how the process will work and what routes can be considered or not. Until then, forest users are asked to obtain and adhere to the winter maps and special order to provide for visitor safety and protect underlying vegetation and wildlife habitat. Winter use ends May 20.