Backcountry recreation banned in Colorado mountain county amid COVID-19 outbreak

Silverton, Colorado. Photo Credit: Kara Grubis (iStock).

With ski resorts shut down around the state of Colorado, many slopegoers have turned to the backcountry to get their fill of snow sports. However, restrictions are starting to be put on backcountry access in some spots due to “limited medical, emergency, and search and rescue services” currently available amid the Colorado COVID-19 outbreak.

Best known for being home to Silverton, San Juan County issued a statement as a “stern warning” to all backcountry users that they were prohibiting backcountry activities in the county. This includes, but is not limited to, skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers.

RELATED: Death toll rises, COVID-19 cases near 600 in Colorado

The county has also implemented a ‘locals only’ policy, including the order that all cars not registered in the county spotted on passes and county roads will be subject to fines and towing. Highway 550 is still open to non-locals, but only those passing through.

Skiers and snowboarders flocked to the backcountry this week following fresh snow. According to SnowBrains, more than 1,000 backcountry skiers and snowboarders were on Loveland Pass on Saturday.

See a video of the crowded pass below, posted by Parker the Snow Dog, honorary Mayor of Georgetown:

With other options unavailable due to virus-related closures and cancelations, many Coloradans are opting to spend their free time in the outdoors. This has led to crowding at many popular spots, making the recommended ‘social distancing’ difficult in common areas such as bathrooms and parking lots.

Outdoor recreation also often involves traveling from one part of the state to another, potentially spreading the virus along the way at spots like gas stations and trailheads.

Some fear that closures may continue at outdoor recreation hotspots, with Rocky Mountain National Park and the Manitou Incline already closed indefinitely.

Read the full note on San Juan County’s backcountry recreation ban here.

San Juan County is located in southwest Colorado with a population of 762.

RELATED: Death toll rises, COVID-19 cases near 600 in Colorado

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