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Backcountry Guidelines

In Case of Emergency, Call 911 or the Chaffee County Sheriff 719-539-2596:

  • Report what happened and exactly where.

  • Identify the point last seen if someone is lost.

  • Cell phones don’t always work in the backcountry.

Keep yourself safe in the backcountry!


Know where you are going:

  • Always carry a map and familiarize yourself with the route you are taking.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.  Leave a note in your vehicle with the same information

  • Unless you have expert navigation skills it is safest to stay on the trail.


Safety considerations are important.

  • Don’t go alone.

  • Start early to avoid thunderstorms and lightning. Be off the summit by late morning.  Do not be above timberline in the afternoon, if there is any chance of storms. Storms in the mountains can form quickly so be prepared to turn around.

  • Don’t exert yourself beyond your physical limits.  If you go up, you must also come down!

  • Carry a whistle, signal mirror, & fire starter.

  • Do not drink unfiltered water from streams or lakes unless it is an emergency. That clear stream may look clean, but it may make you ill if you drink the water.


Wear proper clothing:

  • Hiking boots are preferable.

  • Dress in layers that can be put on or removed easily for comfort and to prevent sweating.

  • Wear clothing made out of material that breathes and wicks moisture. Cotton will get wet and stay wet, leading to hypothermia. Use wool or fleece.

  • Take rain gear.


Respect the sun:

  • Use sun block lotion.

  • Use chapstick with an SPF rating.

  • Wear a hat.

  • Wear sun glasses.


Carry a supply of food and water:

  • Snack on trail mix, dried fruit or other high energy snacks as you go along.

  • Carry a lunch if the hike will go through noon.

  • Drink plenty of water as you go along. Drink more if urine is dark or yellow or zero.

  • Carry one liter of water per hour of hiking.

  • Carry extra food and water in case of emergency.


Considerations for winter hiking:

  • Dress in layers, and have enough clothing to keep you warm in extreme conditions.

  • Shed layers to avoid sweating. Keep dry.

  • Wear boots that keep your feet warm and dry.

  • Gaiters will keep snow out of boots.

  • Be aware of avalanche danger and be able to recognize avalanche zones.


Places to get information:

  • U.S. Forest Service

  • Colorado State Forest Service

  • Colorado Division of Wildlife

  • Visitor Centers

  • Salida or Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce

  • Outdoor specialty shops.


Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) Card:

  • These cards will allow the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to reimburse SAR for expenses incurred on your behalf.

  • Purchase a CORSAR card online.  Fishing, hunting, snowmobile, and ATV licenses also provide this coverage.  


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