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January 22, 2013
Bigger Rigs, More Snowmobilers Could Lead To Expanded Parking Lots On Rabbit Ears Pass
By Tom Ross - Steamboat Today
Steamboat Springs — The number of snowmobile
enthusiasts who spent Saturday night in campers on
Steamboat Springs-based U.S. Forest Service recreation program manager Kent Foster said earlier this month that he visited the parking lots on Rabbit Ears on a Saturday, when weekend crowds were in full force.
“I counted 63 rigs on Saturday at the Muddy Creek parking
lot and about 25 parties overnighting,” Foster said. There were rigs with
trailers, trucks with pop-up campers and RVs. At the
Now, officials with the
The primary parking areas being scrutinized include the
Foster said his agency also is considering whether the level
of use at the
Among the biggest changes being contemplated by the Forest
Service is closing the
The Muddy Creek lot was built in the mid-1990s with considerable support from Routt Powder Riders, the local snowmobiling club, Foster said. They receive funds from snowmobile registration fees to help pay for the costs of grooming an extensive trail system on Rabbit Ears.
The Muddy Creek lot differs from the Dumont and
A change that has come to destination snowmobiling since the Muddy Creek lot first was built is the size of the rigs that enthusiasts bring to Rabbit Ears, Foster said.
“It was maybe designed for pickup trucks with two-place snowmobile trailers,” Foster said. “Now we have all of these big covered Wells Cargo trailers” that carry four to six snowmobiles, he said. In the case of a pickup hauling a fifth-wheel camper and also hauling a snowmobile trailer behind it, the rigs have become unusually long. And there also are campers designed with internal toy haulers that allow snowmobiles to scoot inside a rear hatch.
Maneuvering all of the larger vehicles for efficient use of
available parking is tricky, Foster said. In the case of the
Ultimately, Foster said, the Forest Service would like to cooperate with the Colorado Department of Transportation to create acceleration and deceleration lanes or perhaps even left-turn lanes at the entrances to expanded parking lots.
In addition to asking winter recreationists what suggestions they have and what improvements they would like to see, Forest Service officials will ask them if they would be willing to help pay for those improvements through day-use fees to park on Rabbit Ears.
Read the scoping letter at the Medicine Bow/Routt website.
Written comments may be submitted to Environmental
Coordinator Tony Koch at USDA Forest Service,
Note: This is not a formal comment period required by a planned Forest Service action. Rather, it is an attempt to collect suggestions and ideas from the public to inform future planning.
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