Skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers heading to the backcountry are being urged to use extreme caution when leaving vehicles on the side of the road due to the risk of avalanches.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) says backcountry users who leave vehicles unattended on the side of the road are at risk of obstructing avalanche control missions and the operation of heavy equipment.

“Never leave vehicles near or adjacent to snow slide areas!” said CDOT Maintenance Supervisor, Tyler Carlson. “Just this week, we were forced to cancel an avalanche control mission on US 50 Monarch Pass, because a vehicle was parked in the snow slide path area. This absolutely hinders our winter maintenance operations, plus it is extremely dangerous because your car or truck could be covered with snow by a natural slide.”

Backcountry users are advised to park only in clearly marked and designated parking areas – usually found at the summit of mountain passes and at some trail heads. Drivers who leave vehicles on the shoulder of the road are warned they risk being fined and their vehicle towed away.