If you’ve got early summer high-altitude hiking plans in Colorado, you’ll probably want to pack snow gear for your trek. Colorado’s snowpack is very high above the typical average around a majority of the state. This means that many high-altitude trails will remain snow-covered late into the summer season.
The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan mountains have a snow water equivalent that’s currently at 659% of the median as of May 29. The Gunnison area is at 528%. Upper Rio Grande is at 434%. Statewide, Colorado is at 376%.
According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, snowpack won’t melt off significantly at Colorado’s highest elevations until late-July or August. While snow shoes, traction spikes, and crampons can help you overcome this hurdle, mountain roads that allow access to many popular trailheads will also have late openings.
Popular roads including Trail Ridge Road, Independence Pass, Mount Evans Road, and Kebler Pass were all still closed through Memorial Day Weekend. The Maroon Bells Scenic Area will be closed until June 15, according to Aspen Times. Also in Aspen, the Conundrum Creek Trailhead will be closed as well – and there’s not an estimated date of opening for that one yet. Less popular roads that are at high-altitudes are also likely to prove problematic late into the summer.
Long story short – there will be snow on fourteeners late into summer this year. If you’re planning to bag some of Colorado’s 50-some 14,000-foot peaks and you don’t have plans to wait for dry trails, make sure you plan ahead. Bring the right gear to safely get up and down the mountain. Be aware of avalanche risks by visiting the CAIC website. Click here for a few tips regarding winter mountain climbing in Colorado.
Remember – safety should be your first concern. Turning back is always an option.
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