Rocky Mountain National Park has experienced some winter weather within the past 24 hours, and as a result, officials decided to close the Bear Lake area until plow trucks can help clear the roads.
Rocky Mountain saw roughly a foot of new snow in a storm that began on Monday night, and the Bear Lake area saw most of the precipitation. A popular, year-round attraction in the national park, Bear Lake sits just below 10,000 feet in elevation, just below Hallett Peak and the Continental Divide. The hike around the actual lake is only 0.8 miles, but the views of the mirror-like water and vibrant, evergreen landscape are unforgettable.
Thankfully, road crews were quick to clear the latest batch of snow off of the roads to this magical spot, but Rocky Mountain National Park officials are still advising visitors to use caution when traveling to Bear Lake. Ice and slick conditions will likely still be present at the junction of Bear Lake Road and US 36, and traction laws are still in effect throughout the week, especially as forecasts predict even more snow through Thursday. Yesterday, Rocky Mountain also announced that an avalanche warning would be in effect from Monday through Thursday.
Rocky Mountain National Park Gives Visitors Tips For Wintertime Driving and Hiking
Your best bet for traveling through Rocky Mountain National Park during the wintertime is to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle with weather-ready tires. During traction law, “All vehicles (incl 4WD, AWD & 2WD) must have properly rated tires (Mud+Snow, Mountain+Snow or All-Weather) with a minimum of 3/16″ tread,” Rocky Mountain informed on Twitter. Alternatively, “improperly-rated” tires must have an approved traction control device in order to travel through the park.
If you encounter a snow plow during your visit, the park reminds motorists to give them plenty of room to operate.
“Never pass a snowplow unless there is a safe passing lane. Keep back at least 200 feet and stay back far enough that you can see both mirrors on snowplows, trucks, and other heavy equipment.”
Likewise, hikers should adopt the same precautions when choosing proper footwear for snowy and/or icy trails. If the roads are full of snow, the trails are likely experiencing the same conditions. Of course, you’ll need plenty of layers, food and water as well.
“For safe winter hiking, use traction devices that attach to the bottom of your boots to help give you traction and help prevent slips and falls,” the park advised. “Using hiking poles are also strongly advised. On higher elevation trails with deeper levels of snow, snowshoes may be needed.”
To learn more about safe traveling through Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter, head here.