These seasonal restrictions help protect elk, deer and bighorn sheep in their winter range, provide cross-country skiers and snowshoers with accessible quiet use areas, and protect groomed winter use trails from being destroyed by wheeled vehicles, said Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas.
Those areas with mandatory closures or restrictions include:
All designated wilderness areas are closed to all types of motorized use.
North side of Wolf Creek Pass. Over snow vehicles are restricted to the Lobo Overlook Road (FSR 402). Off trail motorized use is not permitted.
Wolf Creek Ski Area. Closed to unauthorized motorized use.
Windy Point. A 550 acre area northwest of State Highway 17 near Cumbres Pass is closed to over snow vehicles to provide quality cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.
Several roads on the Divide Ranger District are closed to wheeled motorized vehicles from January 1 to April 1 in order to protect groomed winter use trails. A list of these roads may be found in the special orders section or the Rio Grande National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/riogrande/alerts-notices.
Rock Creek Archery Range (FSR 265 1A). Closed to over snow motorized use. This area is groomed as a cross country ski course.
Areas with voluntary closures or restrictions include:
Elk, deer and bighorn sheep winter range. Voluntary restriction of over snow vehicles to forest system roads in winter range. This reduces stress on wildlife, which improves their rate of survival through the winter months. These areas are delineated on the Rio Grande National Forest visitor map. Maps may be purchased for $9.00 at any RGNF office or may be viewed online at www.fs.usda.gov/main/riogrande/maps-pubs.
Divide Ranger District cross-country ski courses. Voluntary closure to over snow vehicles within Big Meadows Campground and several groomed trails within Mineral County. A description of the Nordic trails may be viewed on the RGNF website at www.fs.usda.gov/activity/riogrande/recreation/wintersports.
There are also several areas identified along State Highway 17 with voluntary closures to over snow motorized vehicles. These areas are signed on the ground and delineated on a map on the Cumbres and La Manga Winter Recreation brochure. The free brochure may be picked up at the Conejos Peak Ranger District Office or viewed on the RGNF website at www.fs.usda.gov/activity/riogrande/recreation/wintersports.
For more information concerning winter travel on the Rio Grande National Forest call the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center at 719-852-5941.