Like many states in the American West, Colorado saw record snowpack levels in the winter of 2022-2023. Some parts of the state saw as much as 140 percent of average accumulation, and stream runoffs are still high across the Centennial State. As a result, many of Colorado’s high passes remain closed deep into the summer season.
If you’re planning a trip to Overland Expo Mountain West and are considering some off-road exploring on some of these well-known and magnificent high-altitude routes, take heed. Resource-strapped rural counties in Colorado are usually tasked with monitoring and maintaining remote mountain roads, and because of this year’s epic winter, snow banks and road damage have conspired to keep explorers off the trails—at least some of them.
Allegedly seeking Instagram glory, some would-be pioneers attempted to force open the famous Black Bear Road (top elevation: 12,844 feet, and immortalized in a C.W McCall spoken word track) of their own accord. It did not end well, as a Twitter thread from the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office reports.
It is believed people drove up Black Bear Pass & dug out deep snow to be able to drive the pass. They posted on social media that the pass was unofficially open. Officially, Black Bear Pass is closed. Mitigation needs to be done including clearing rocks that can cause rockslides. pic.twitter.com/cJ68oc2H9O
— San Miguel Sheriff (@SheriffAlert) August 15, 2023
Venturing onto closed roads, especially in remote environments like the high Rocky Mountains, is dangerous business (not to mention illegal). Not only are you risking your rig and possibly your life, but you’re also putting others at risk, including first responders. In addition, this kind of behavior tars all of us who venture off-road with a dark brush and can lead to permanent closures down the line, which nobody wants. While we don’t generally condone name-calling at Expedition Portal (please see our forum rules for more on this), I did have a chuckle at the Sheriff’s Office referring to these particular tourists as “ass clowns”. Travel responsibly for all of our sakes.
Black Bear Road remains closed.
Images: San Miguel County Sherrif’s Office via Twitter
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