Outdoor recreationists advised to take extra avalanche safety precautions this spring to avoid avalanche paths

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) remind outdoor enthusiasts participating in outdoor recreation to check avalanche forecasts at Colorado.gov/avalanche before going into the backcountry.

“More backcountry users were caught in avalanches in March than any other month this year–especially the last ten days of the month,” said CAIC Director Ethan Greene. “Thankfully, no one has been seriously injured or worse. We want everyone to enjoy our wonderful public lands and go home alive and well to their family and friends.”

CAIC has recorded more than 5,000 avalanches this season, with 112 people caught, 38 partially buried, six fully buried, and 14 injured. Tragically, two people have been killed in avalanches this season.  

“It might be early April and officially spring, but we still have winter avalanche conditions. People should make travel plans based on the current snowpack—not the calendar,” said CAIC’s Director Ethan Greene. We need everyone headed into the backcountry to check the avalanche forecast and make sure their plan for the day fits the current avalanche conditions.”

In Colorado, people who recreate in the backcountry must be mindful of the risks of avalanche weather and constantly shifting weather patterns. Dangerous weather conditions that raise concerns are unpredictable, such as strong wind gusts, heavy snow storms, cold water temperatures, and avalanches. 

Below are outdoor recreation and avalanche safety tips to help you recreate responsibly. Avalanches happen in Colorado, so planning and monitoring the weather will ensure the safest time possible.

Avalanche Safety Tips:

  • Check the forecast (www.colorado.gov/avalanche)
  • Get some training (article, online material, evening to multi-day class)
  • Be prepared (regarding avalanches, carry avalanche transceiver, probe pole, and shovel)
  • Park in designated areas — undesignated parking can destroy vegetation and block outdoor first-responder vehicles in an emergency. 

Outdoor Recreation Tips:

  • Know before you go. Before you depart, check the weather forecast for where you are going and pack layers, sun protection, and appropriate footwear. Choose your destination based on the weather forecast and your activity based on your skill level and safety gear.
  • Trash the trash. Keep our outdoor playgrounds clean by not leaving any trash behind. Consider your responsibility to take action to protect our climate — today’s snow is tomorrow’s water.
  • Keep wildlife wild.  Colorado has multiple big game species, including elk, mule deer, moose, and bighorn sheep. Winter disturbance or stress caused by humans jeopardizes these animals’ ability to survive the following season and reduces females’ chances of successfully raising offspring. Watch and photograph wildlife from a safe distance to avoid startling them.

Visit CAIC’s education resources page to learn more: https://avalanche.state.co.us/education/resources.

Colorado residents can get a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass with their vehicle registration through the DMV to support avalanche safety programs in Colorado. For more information, visit cpw.info/keepcoloradowild.