"Winter Access" When does it begin?

Trailhead condition requests, questions, alerts, etc.
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CaptCO
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"Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:45 am

As I close in on some of the more distant centennials left, I'm curious as to when the trailheads fully close. Last year I was naive and believed it was after Labor Day. Is it safe to say after the >1' of new snow predicted, that most of the San Juan trailheads will be inaccessible? Are there any that require less than 5-10mi of extra mileage? Sorry if this has been answered before..
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by Scott P » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:51 am

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:45 am
I'm curious as to when the trailheads fully close.
When either there is too much snow to drive on them or when the gates are locked.

That's an impossible question to answer since you didn't say what trailheads. They are all different.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:57 am

Scott P wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:51 am
CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:45 am
I'm curious as to when the trailheads fully close.
When either there is too much snow to drive on them or when the gates are locked.

That's an impossible question to answer since you didn't say what trailheads. They are all different.
Sorry, I should've been more specific
Nutras Creek or Cebolla, Silver/Grizzly, Mill Creek for Dallas (open?) or is Blue Lakes gulley preferred, Rock of Ages or Gladstone alt., routes for Rio Grande Pyramid, Jagged, Phoenix, and Cataract Gulch. When the Durango train runs, does it drop at Cascade during Winter? What are the logistics for that if you know?

I found out what too much snow meant going to Lily Lake TH last December with blizzaks and a RWD truck. Dumb me, I know. Just an FYI I’ve only seen/lived/hiked in snow for one season. I take precautions and try to learn as much as possible, found out firsthand how deadly it can be
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptainSuburbia » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm

They close when there is too much snow for your vehicle :-D
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:21 pm

CaptainSuburbia wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm
They close when there is too much snow for your vehicle :-D
I guess I need to make more money so I can buy a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco..

I guess I had false hope some roads nearby would be plowed vs others not
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by dwoodward13 » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:37 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:21 pm
CaptainSuburbia wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm
They close when there is too much snow for your vehicle :-D
I guess I need to make more money so I can buy a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco..

I guess I had false hope some roads nearby would be plowed vs others not
The USFS generally doesn't plow anything. If its a county road, the counties may or may not plow depending on if there are people living down a road or some other infrastructure. I would think Mill Creek (water treatment plant at the end), Gladstone East Face (off a paved state highway), Cataract Gulch (houses somewhat close by, maybe a bit of walking), Jagged (Vallecito Res has a paved road, Purgatory is always open!) would remain accessible for all of winter.

Nutras, Cebolla, Silver Creek/GG if they aren't already gated, are probably very close to being so.

Your best bet is to call the relevant USFS Ranger District or a local chamber of commerce/visitors centers to get info on gates.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by Hiker Mike » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:44 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:21 pm
I guess I need to make more money so I can buy a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco..

I guess I had false hope some roads nearby would be plowed vs others not
A lifted Jeep or Bronco won't help much in deep snow. A snowmobile however, could be your ticket. Or my favorite; a Snow-Trac!


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Trac
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by globreal » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:46 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:21 pm
CaptainSuburbia wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm
They close when there is too much snow for your vehicle :-D
I guess I need to make more money so I can buy a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco..

I guess I had false hope some roads nearby would be plowed vs others not
A lifted vehicle isn't often what is going to make the difference on how far you can drive in. Sometimes the slope angle of a slick road determines whether or not you can drive it. I've seen many vehicles just slide right off the road.

There are a few places where some roads are partially plowed and you can drive to that standard winter closure. Other places it's just a matter of how much snow has fallen and who as driven/packed the road. Sometimes having chains can get you further in and sometimes they won't.

Doing your research is helpful. You can find out on here as Bill has many of the TH/winter closure info listed. However, you really need to research current conditions. The trailhead condition status updates are often helpful.

However, my experience is that you are USUALLY better off not spending the extra time to stop and put on chains, or attempt to drive that extra distance to the summer TH. If you get stuck or slide off the road then you've most likely just trashed your whole day to get a summit. The time savings/effort savings usually isn't worth it. Just jump into your snowshoes or AT skis and go get it!
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by globreal » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:47 pm

globreal wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:46 pm
CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:21 pm
CaptainSuburbia wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm
They close when there is too much snow for your vehicle :-D
I guess I need to make more money so I can buy a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco..

I guess I had false hope some roads nearby would be plowed vs others not
A lifted vehicle isn't often what is going to make the difference on how far you can drive in. Sometimes the slope angle of a slick road determines whether or not you can drive it. I've seen many vehicles just slide right off the road.

There are a few places where some roads are partially plowed and you can drive to that standard winter closure. Other places it's just a matter of how much snow has fallen and who as driven/packed the road. Sometimes having chains can get you further in and sometimes they won't.

Doing your research is helpful. You can find out on here as Bill has many of the TH/winter closure info listed. However, you really need to research current conditions. The trailhead condition status updates are often helpful.

However, my experience is that you are USUALLY better off not spending the extra time to stop and put on chains, or attempt to drive that extra distance to the summer TH. If you get stuck or slide off the road then you've most likely just trashed your whole day to get a summit. The time savings/effort savings usually isn't worth it. Just jump into your snowshoes or AT skis and the winter closure and go get it!
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:02 pm

Thank you everyone, I admit to being a bit lazy and not doing enough research
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by bmcqueen » Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:51 pm

I did the UNs a few years ago a couple days after Thanksgiving. Gate was open to Silver Creek when I went in that morning. Not so much when I went to leave that evening...

We got to Nutras Creek in Jan a few years ago too in the super dry winter. Most years that wouldn’t have gone.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by Trotter » Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:55 pm

dwoodward13 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:37 pm


Your best bet is to call the relevant USFS Ranger District or a local chamber of commerce/visitors centers to get info on gates.
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