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How to: Responsible Winter Recreation

Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Land's Executive Director Amy Edmonds shares these tips to ensure you have a fun and safe winter outdoors.

AMPL is dedicated to the preservation of public lands and national forests for the benefit of, and the multi-use by, our regions diverse recreational communities. 

As we pass through what has been a difficult year, we can reflect and see that one of the brightest spots in 2020 has been our ability to momentarily escape the lockdowns by experiencing nature. It is why our national parks and forests have seen such increasing numbers as Americans get out and recreate on their public lands. And this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing anytime soon. We see winter sports explode onto the scene with snowmobile sales rising 150% nationwide. This means more and more new snowmobilers are likely to be on our trails this winter season.

And while recreating is such an important part of staying healthy - physically and mentally - we should all be aware of the need for safe and respectful recreation. It is always good to review some of the most important tips for being respectful and safe: 

  1. Know before you go, check the avalanche forecast here or download a smartphone app, here. According to Backcountry Access, in 2018-2019, there were eight snowmobile fatalities due to avalanches in the United States, three of them were in Wyoming, one was in Idaho. 63% of the victims were recovered by people who were not in their riding group and the same number of victims did not have a transceiver. 75% of all fatalities happen with Western riders, which is why it’s so important that before you even decide to go, you check the avalanche forecast and make sure you are avalanche aware at all times!
  2. Share the trail. Everyone has a right to winter recreation. Be sure you share the trail with others. If you are a snowmobile, yield right to oncoming traffic, be especially respectful of those on foot/skis. No one sporting groups owns the trails, which is why we should all be respectful to each other.  
  3. Check the forecast and be prepared for weather. Wyoming weather can change in an instant, so be sure you are aware of the forecast and are prepared with the proper cold weather gear while you recreate.
  4. Always have a plan and make sure your friends and family know it. If you are going out, particularly in the back country, be sure you have a plan and someone who isn’t going out with you knows your plans.  Have a check-in time so someone knows when you left and when you are expected back.

Getting out and enjoying our public lands is such a wonderful way to escape, but with it comes the responsibility to be respectful and safe, both for yourself, and for others. Amy Edmonds is Executive Director of AMPL – Advocates for the Multi-Use of Public Lands. You can reach her at amye@teamampl.org. Visit AMPL’s website at www.teamampl.org

The mission of AMPL is dedication to the preservation of public lands and national forests for the benefit of, and the multi-use by, our regions diverse recreational communities. 


Here are our top winter recreation recommendations:

Photos courtesy of Visit Jackson Hole