Snowmobiler busted for wilderness violation near Aspen

After recently issuing tickets to snowmobilers for violating wilderness rules, the U.S. Forest Service says riders are responsible for knowing which areas are open.

Know the rules before you go, rangers say; info available at forest web sites

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service continued a crackdown on renegade snowmobilers with a Feb. 28 bust in the Aspen area, where a ranger cited a Denver man for riding his machine in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area.

Rangers recently chased another group of snowmobilers in the Steamboat Springs backcountry and issued tickets.

The Aspen violation resulted in $500 fine and a processing fee of $25. Operating a motor vehicle in a designated wilderness area can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.

Forest Service rangers saw the violator riding his sled in a large meadow in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area while on a patrol of the Wilderness boundary along Richmond Ridge off the back side of Aspen Mountain. In this particular area, the Wilderness boundary comes within 100 feet of County Road 123.  The boundary is signed in this area.

“National Forest users must know where they are and to know the rules for those areas. In this case, the Violation Notice was written because the Wilderness Act of 1964 specifically prohibits the use of motorized vehicles in congressionally designated wilderness areas unless under special authorization,” according to a Forest Service press release.

“Snowmobiles in Wilderness Areas are a problem in the Roaring Fork Valley, especially along Richmond Ridge, the Independence Pass Road, and the upper Castle Creek Valley towards Pearl Pass,” said Martha Moran, recreation and wilderness manager for the Aspen and Sopris ranger districts.

“We also see snowmobiles in the winter back-country non-motorized recreation areas. All of the areas listed above have restrictions that the riders must stay on the developed roads, and may not travel over the snow wherever they please. In the Richmond Ridge area all snowmobilers must stay on the county roads until they are south of the 10th Mountain Division Association’s Barnard Hut.”

“Many snowmobilers like to ride in large open areas rather than on groomed trails,” said ranger Kevin Warner. “I recommend to most people interested in snowmobiling to look into the 4-mile area, the Kobey Park area, and the Flat Tops area to the west and south of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. These areas have large open play areas where a snowmobiler can have a lot of fun in a responsible manner.”

Information about where snowmobiles can be legally operated on the White River National Forest can be obtained by going to the Forest’s web page at and following the prompts to information on Travel Management. Telephone numbers for each Ranger District on the White River National Forest can also be found on that web page.


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