SANTA FE – The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) reminds visitors that forest roads susceptible to damage under severe weather conditions are closed for the winter to protect public health and safety, infrastructure and natural resources.
Seasonal closures generally occur between December and May, when snow, ice and frigid temperatures make winter travel treacherous.
The closures prohibit the use of motorized vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, on restricted roads when gates are closed, locked or posted with a closure sign.
Visitors traveling on open forest roads should use caution as conditions can change suddenly. Check the weather and current road conditions before leaving home, and let someone know the planned route.
Be prepared for an emergency by carrying safety items in the vehicle:
- A shovel, chains, water and food;
- Sand or kitty litter for traction if you get stuck;
- Jumper cables, flashlight and warning devices (i.e., flares, warning triangles or reflectors); and
- Blankets and warm winter clothing.
In case of emergency, call 911. Local ranger districts do not have emergency response capabilities. If an abandoned vehicle is blocking the roadway, call local law enforcement, usually the county sheriff’s office, for immediate removal.
Forest Service personnel will enforce road closures. Violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.
Federal, state and local officers, members of an organized rescue team or firefighting force, landowners accessing their private property and any others authorized by permit are exempt from the closure orders but are still advised to use extreme caution on icy or snowpacked roads.