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Know Before You Go: Backcountry Winter Recreation

Steamboat Springs provides wonderful access to winter outdoor recreation opportunities on our surrounding National Forest. We encourage you to enjoy the outdoors this winter and gather know before you go information to help you recreate safely and responsibly.

Where to go: Winter Recreation Areas

Visit the links below for information on the various winter recreation areas around Steamboat Springs. On these pages, you will find directions, parking information, uses, and things to keep in mind when visiting the area.

winter dry lake

Dry Lake Trailhead

Check out our newly installed Dry Lake Trailhead camera!

View Camera

Park Proper

Trailheads will fill on weekends and holidays by 9 am, so arrive early or consider heading out in the afternoon or on a weekday. If you can’t find a parking spot, don’t make one. Tickets will be issued for inventive parking and parking illegally on the roads.

Yield to Big Equipment

Give big equipment like snow plows or snow cats room to operate by moving out of their path of travel. It is a lot easier for a car, snowmobile or someone on foot to safely pull off a winter route than a large piece of equipment

Have a Backup Plan

If a parking lot is full, pick another trailhead. Look for other, less popular areas or plan to come back later in the day. Head back into town and grab some coffee while you wait.  

Be Prepared. Be Safe.

Traveling in the backcountry in the winter is quiet, beautiful and a whole lot of fun, but it can also be risky. It's critical to be prepared. Before heading out, check the forecast, know where you are going and how to call for help, plus bring all the appropriate gear. Check out the State of Colorado's backcountry safety page below for more information. 

Say hello, be helpful.

These basic courtesies go a long way in creating a friendly vibe in Steamboat’s outdoor spaces. People play on snow in different ways, respect one another’s modes of travel and help ensure everyone enjoys their nature time.

Be Avy Savvy

Before heading out check the avalanche forecast, know where you are going and make sure you’ve got the safety gear and know how to use it.  If conditions are dangerous, skip it; avalanches are no fun. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s (CAIC) is a valuable resource for information on how to be prepared and how to travel safely in the backcountry. They provide daily avalanche and weather forecasts. For free avalanche awareness training, check out CAIC’s Know Before You Go page

CAIC Know Before You GO

Routt County Search & Rescue’s Beacon Training Park 

In an effort to educate recreationalist and provide a safe and accessible venue for practicing backcountry avalanche skills, Routt County Search & Rescue has partnered with the City of Steamboat Springs to create the Beacon Training Park at the base of Howelsen Hill Ski Area near the Barrows chairlift. The agencies urge groups and individuals to take advantage of this unique and accessible resource to practice these potentially life savings skills. 

Backcountry Gear 

Here are tips from a local on 7 essentials for your next backcountry trip. Head to the following local businesses to get advice on backcountry gear and avalanche safety equipment:

Backcountry Skiing


Local Guides and Outfitters

A great way to experience the backcountry safely and to learn more about the local terrain and snow conditions is to hire a guide. The following businesses offer guided backcountry trips:

Sign up For Mobile Alerts:

Be the first to know about emergencies and other important community information by signing up to receive alerts sent direct to your phone from the County and City. Sign for alerts from Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for road closures and weather updates. 

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