Many roads still impassable as summer travel season technically begins Sunday on the White River National Forest

Visitors urged to stay off muddy roads and trails

La nieve todavía se acumula en la puerta de Buford Road en West Elk Trailhead al norte de New Castle, como se muestra en esta foto de principios de esta semana.
USFS/Courtesy photo

As the summer motorized and mountain bike travel season begins Sunday in most areas on the White River National Forest, forest officials are alerting visitors to the likelihood of encountering roads and trails that are damaged or impassable due to this year’s heavy snowpack.

Some roads in the area, including the popular Buford Road access into the Flat Tops north of New Castle, are still covered in deep snow and currently impassable, Forest officials said Thursday.

Others may be muddy or snowy in places and susceptible to damage if people try to use them. High spring runoff may also lead to washed-out or damaged roads and trails in some areas, a news release states. 

“We’ve had an amazing winter, and now we are starting to see impacts from the high amount of run-off that is underway,” WRNF Recreation Program Manager Sam Massman said in the release. “Conditions in many parts of the forest are running later than we see in average years, so we’re asking visitors to please be patient and avoid using muddy roads and trails until they have time to dry out and harden.”

The Rifle Ranger District is typically a reliable early season destination, but this year much of the Flat Tops, Clinetops, and the Buford-New Castle Road (Forest Road 245) past the West Elk Trailhead are still inaccessible or impassable due to deep snow. 

“Many of our roads in the Rifle Ranger District south of I-70 are still muddy and are impacted by reoccurring rain and runoff,” Rifle District Ranger Kelsha Anderson said in the release. “Please plan on delaying trips into this area a few weeks to give snow a chance to melt and to allow roads and trails to dry out.”

Some roads and trails are not scheduled to open until later this month or in June because of snow at higher elevations, or to reduce disturbance to wildlife such as calving elk. 

Also, a reminder that E-bikes are considered motorized transportation on National Forest System lands and may only be ridden on roads and trails designated open to motorized vehicles. Traditional (non e-bike) bicycles are allowed on designated trails and roads where mechanized use is permitted.

Off-road and off-trail travel is prohibited for all motorized and mechanized vehicles on the White River National Forest.

For the latest site-specific information, summer motor use maps and mountain bike maps, visit the Rifle District Ranger website at

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