Update: Road Closures in Utah, Montana Effect Snowmobilers

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(ED-We were alerted to two states where road closures are affecting snowmobiling in those areas. Here are the press releases giving details. The first is from Utah, the second from Montana.)


UDOT Region One Winter Alpine Highway Closures May Impact Snowmobilers


Ogden - Region One of the Utah Department of Transportation advises winter sports enthusiasts that two alpine highway closures in northern Utah may have an impact on snowmobilers, backcountry skiers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.


UDOT says that state Road 39, the Monte Cristo Highway, has been closed for the winter, from milepost 37 (near Ant Flat Road) east of Huntsville, Weber County, to MP 56 near Woodruff, Rich County. Additionally, state Road 65, the Big Mountain Highway, has also been closed for the winter, from milepost 3, near its junction with Emigration Canyon Road in Salt Lake County, to MP 14, approximately 1.5 miles south of the East Canyon Resort in Morgan County.


In the case of both highways, no vehicular or backcountry access for recreational purposes on Monte Cristo Summit or Big Mountain is available via SR-39 and SR-65 from the sections of highway closed. However, East Canyon Reservoir and Resort remains accessible via SR-65 from Henefer, Summit County and over SR-66 from Morgan, via I-84. Both of these highways are seasonal roadways and the cost to keep them open during the winter is not practical, due to extremely deep snowfalls and severe ice.


Additionally, some snowmobile enthusiasts have noted that SR-39 has been plowed for approximately three miles west of the locked gate at milepost 56. However, UDOT stresses that the highway remains closed to all public traffic. This short section of SR-39, east of Monte Cristo Summit, is being maintained by personnel from the Ruby Pipeline project, to allow their workers to access the construction site of the transcontinental oil pipeline.


Since this snow removal work is not being conducted according to UDOT maintenance standards, however, UDOT leadership has determined that it will not unlock and open the gate for normal vehicular or recreational traffic. If an alpine blizzard, for instance, were to hit this area while private vehicles were allowed on this closed route, they could easily be snowed in or otherwise stranded, and UDOT would be liable for anything that might occur. As a result, Ruby Pipeline, under permit to UDOT, is paying for and conducting this work solely to access their construction site. As such, they and their employees have accepted complete liability for the maintenance of this short section of SR-39. For this reason, as well, UDOT will not allow public access to this section of roadway.


For more information, visit http://udot.utah.gov.


Olson Creek, Jackson Creek Roads Temporarily Closed to Snowmobiles


Bozeman, MT - Two Forest Service roads in the Bridger and Bangtail mountains are temporarily closed to snowmobile traffic while the roads are being plowed for timber harvest activities on private lands.


Olson Creek Road (No. 6944) and Jackson Creek Road (No. 977) will reopen to snowmobile use by Dec. 17, when plowing and logging operations are expected to end for the season.


Both roads both pass through private land before entering the Gallatin National Forest. The roads are being plowed to provide access for logging trucks and other traffic necessary for timber harvest activities on those private lands. Montana State Law only allows the operation of a snowmobile on a road if the road is covered by snow to the extent that travel on the road by other motor vehicles is impractical or impossible (MCA 23-2-631).


Though Olson Creek and Jackson Creek Road remain open to non-motorized uses such as cross-country skiing, visitors are urged to be very cautious because of the presence of logging trucks on both routes. As designated in the Gallatin National Forest Travel Plan, both roads close annually to all motorized vehicles, except snowmobiles, on Dec. 2, and reopen on May 16.


For more information on the status of these two routes, please contact the Bozeman Ranger District at 3710 Fallon Street Suite C or by phone at (406) 522-2520.


For more information on the Gallatin National Forest, visit www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin.


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