Winter motorized sports now open across the Chugach

The photo was taken by me taken along the Copper River Highway at the 10-Mile Pavilion on Dec. 11, 2021. Photo by Amanda Williams/for The Cordova Times

It certainly feels like winter on the Cordova Ranger District. Early season snowfall means a winter wonderland brimming with recreation activities: skating, snowshoeing, snowmachining, snowboarding and skiing.

Starting Dec. 1 and running through April 30, the winter motorized sports season allows winter recreation enthusiasts to enjoy the vast snow-covered landscape. Generally, from December to April, there is enough snow to cover the delicate habitat in our region, allowing for the motorized recreation activities.

“Folks need to be prepared for winter conditions even when just driving out on the road. People sometimes are underdressed and ill prepared when they take a Sunday drive out the road in winter,” said Andy Morse, Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer based in Cordova.

He said it is common for vehicles to get stuck in the deep snow, and he encourages folks to prepare for the unexpected by carrying shovels, tire chains, tow strap, additional warm clothes, boots, food and water.

“There’s no guarantee that another vehicle is going to pass by in the near future,” he said.

Road maintenance is slated to be underway along the Copper River Highway soon, and motorists should use caution.

It is good practice to check the ice thickness before recreating. A graphic from Alaska State Parks, citing the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. Graphic courtesy Alaska State Parks

“Just because you see tire tracks out the road, doesn’t mean you should follow them, it’s very realistic the highway won’t be plowed passed the city dump,” Morse said.

Due to varying snow conditions, winter motorized access is subject to change via the Forest Order found on the Forest Service website. All recreationists should respect private property boundaries.

Snowmachiners, skiers and snowboarders should consult avalanche reports on a regular basis and always make sure they are equipped with avalanche gear before heading out into the backcountry.

For the latest snow conditions, visit the website alaskasnow.org.

Amanda Williams is a VetsWork intern working for the Forest Service as a public outreach specialist on the Cordova Ranger District. Williams is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.