Wilderness off limits for snowmobiles, all users should be aware of regulations and boundaries

Forest Service
Forest Service

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.)  February 15, 2019 – Recent violations for snowmobiling in wilderness and in non-motorized areas, have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to remind all winter recreation users on the Routt National Forest that they are responsible to always know where they are and what regulations are in place.

Specifically, snowmobilers have been cited by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement for trespassing in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area and for riding in the non-motorized area on Rabbit Ears Pass, near Steamboat Springs, Colo.

“Simply put, wilderness areas in the forest are off limits for motorized use,” said Tara Umphries, Ranger for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District.

Wilderness areas are congressionally designated areas set aside to minimize impact from human activity. As such, motorized vehicles are permanently prohibited from operating in wilderness areas.

Some of the wilderness area is marked, but it is ultimately up to the individuals to know where they are in reference to restricted or prohibited areas. In addition to the wilderness restrictions, additional regulations are in place in the area.

Specific regulations related to the area include:

  • Operating any motorized equipment, including snowmobiles, is illegal in all wilderness areas.
  • The west side of Buffalo Pass has a Winter Backcountry Permit Area, in which a permit is required for all uses.
  • Separate areas for non-motorized and motorized use exist at Rabbit Ears Pass
  • Mandatory and voluntary closures exist throughout the area, please ensure you have the most up-to-date information before heading out.

Maps and information regarding these regulations are available at Forest Service offices or online at www.fs.usda.gov/mbr and www.routtpowerriders.com.

Throughout the Routt National Forest, there exists hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of land that are available for motorized, winter recreation. Forest Service officials are hoping to enlist the help of locals to remind and inform visitors from out-of-state of acceptable use in the Forest.

“Local recreationists are a great resource to help spread the word,” added Umphries. “Many local individuals and businesses can give accurate information about where people should and shouldn’t be.”

All violations have ramifications; however, many Forest users don’t realize that penalties include fines, and in some severe cases possible jail time and equipment forfeiture.

For additional information on winter recreation in the Routt National Forest, please call or visit a ranger district listed below:

Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District

925 Weiss Drive, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487


Parks Ranger District

100 Main Street, Walden, CO 80480


Yampa Ranger District

300 Roselawn Avenue, Yampa, CO 80483


For more information, please visit our website at https://fs.usda.gov/mbr, or follow us on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB.