Winter conditions are settling in across Idaho and Montana, and snow is accumulating at higher elevations prompting the Missoula Snowgoers to begin grooming the snowmobile trail system at Lolo Pass on the Missoula and Powell Ranger Districts.
Additionally, the West Central Montana Avalanche Center will begin issuing regular advisories starting Dec. 1 (or as conditions warrant) for the winter season.
The grooming of the trail system by the Snowgoers is conducted in partnership with the Lolo and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and supported by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Typically, the Lolo Pass and Elk Meadows areas are groomed first and the remainder of the system is groomed as snow accumulates at the lower elevations.
Although some trails will not yet be groomed due to lack of snow, all gates providing access to the snowmobile trail system are closed to prevent vehicle access and ensure the roads and trails are available for snowmobiling. If trail restrictions are necessary for administrative use, maps with the trail restrictions will be posted at affected trailheads, the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, and at the Lolo Hot Springs Resort. The maps will be updated as restrictions change.
Before entering the winter backcountry, know before you go.
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The West Central Montana Avalanche Center will issue three advisories a week — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The advisories are posted at http://www.missoulaavalanche.org. The Avalanche Center, with support from the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation and the Lochsa/Powell Ranger District, will again have a beacon park in place near the Lolo Pass Visitor Center for those who want to test and practice using their avalanche beacons. Information about training opportunities is available at http://www.missoulaavalanche.org/beacon-training. The beacon park will be available for use during the week.
Vehicles parked at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center are required to display a valid Winter Recreation Pass at all times. Day, Bundle and Season passes will be available at the Visitor Center during normal hours of operation: Thursday through Monday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
After hours, day passes will be available at the Visitor Center front door for exact cash or check. Season and day passes will also be available at The Trailhead in Missoula, and the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s Office at Fort Missoula. The cost of a Season Pass is $35, a Bundle of five day passes is $20, and a Day Pass is $5.
For additional information or questions please contact Carl Anderson on the Missoula Ranger District at 406-329-3976.