Copyright © 2013 Travis N. Wood
1) February 29 — April 1 (1.6 MB)
2) April 1 — May 2 (1.6 MB)
3) May 2 — May 16 (1.6 MB)
4) May 16 — June 16 (1.6 MB)
5) June 16 — June 21 (1.6 MB)
6) June 21 — November 15 (1.6 MB)
7) November 15 — November 30 (1.6 MB)
8) November 30 — December 1 (1.6 MB)
9) December 1 — December 14 (1.6 MB)
10) December 14 — February 29 (1.6 MB)
Open and Closed Roads
The Bighorn National Forest "Motor Vehicle Use Map" (MVUM) records the scheduled dates for the opening and closing of roads and trails to motor vehicles. (See download page or download the PDF file here.) The map is updated yearly. The map links above show an alternate rendering of open and closed roads for the year 2011. Later years may show some revisions. But ultimately, no matter which year, the MVUM map provides only the scheduled opening and closing. A deep snowpack and slow melt and delay openings past the scheduled date. And a low snowpack may allow some roads to open early. Call or visit the Forest Service office to be sure.
And check for
on the Forest Service website. As this June 10, 2011 public notice
shows, the deep winter snowpack of 2011 delayed opening dates of some roads and trails beyond dates shown on the MVUM. So the forest visitor is responsible for obeying temporary closures indicated by closed gates, barriers, signs, and so on — even if those closures are not indicated on the most recent MVUM. The most current information, as well as a copy of the MVUM, can be obtained by contacting a local Forest Service office.
Photo to the right shows off-road damage caused by vehicle that attempted to cross a snow drift in the road and created ruts off the road in order to retreat from the area.
The custom-made maps available from this page derive their information from the 2011 MVUM (linked above.) But these maps restrict their concern to only those roads and trails used to access Cloud Peak Wilderness or the Rock Creek Wilderness Study Area. Other roads and trails are excluded. For instance, no attempt is made here to consider roads heading south or east of highway 16 or roads heading north from forest-county road 26. Such roads and others do not approach wilderness or WSA trailheads.
The purpose of these maps is to consider the network of roads in individual time periods corresponding to opening and closing dates. As such, the maps show which roads and trails are scheduled to be open or closed in that time period. Those time periods may be as short as a few days or as long as a few months. Not all of us resort to the wilderness only in the summer months. We are winter visitors as well who may be as likely to snowshoe a route in February as we are to backpack a route in August.
In the function above, the maps may help wilderness visitors see which areas of the national forest are closed to motor vehicle access and in what time period. And the maps do so in context of the physical features of the area. But in no way do these maps replace the need for consulting the MVUM or local forest service office for the current, most reliable information.
These maps are intended for hikers and backpackers (and by extension, snowshoers and cross-country skiers), who access trailheads and parking areas with highway-legal motor vehicles such as passenger cars, pickup trucks, or sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The maps are not intended for all recreationists, such as riders of Off-Road Motor Vehicles (ORMVs, ATVs, or snowmobiles.) Motorized use of a trail may not be shown if that vehicle is not a highway-legal passenger vehicle wider that 50 inches.
Closed roads are rendered in these maps as trails shown by a dashed red line. That is because a closed road may function as a hiking trail. On other maps presented by this website, hiking trails are rendered as dashed red lines. But on these closed-road maps, the same trails will be rendered by a yellow dashed line to distinguish them from closed roads over which foot travel is allowed when the route is closed to motor vehicles.)