Control panel

A control panel at the White River National Forest avalanche beacon training park outside of Minturn allows backcountry recreators to practice multiple search scenarios.

The White River National Forest’s avalanche beacon training park outside Minturn gives the public an easily accessible opportunity to practice using avalanche transceivers, a critical piece of safety equipment for winter backcountry recreation.

“Record numbers of people venturing into the backcountry and the need for winter backcountry safety education is higher than ever,” said Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis. “Avalanche transceivers are key to finding avalanche victims as soon as possible, but they are only effective if people know how to use them.”

The beacon training park is situated a short climb up the slope at the Mountain Meadow Trailhead on U.S. 24, which is about a quarter of a mile from the I-70 Minturn exit.

The park, which was developed in partnership with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, consists of eight buried transmitters that can be turned on and off from a small control panel. This allows for multiple search scenarios to familiarize people with using their avalanche transceivers and probing the snow for victims. It’s a self-operating system open all day to the public.

“Beacon parks have traditionally been located at ski areas, where general public access may be limited to pass holders,” Veldhuis said. “This accessible public location should help encourage more people to become proficient using avalanche transceivers, which can help save lives.”

While avalanche transceivers are important if someone becomes buried in an avalanche, avoiding avalanches in the first place is the best strategy. Before heading into the backcountry, check the avalanche forecast at https://avalanche.state.co.us/. More information about being safe in the backcountry this winter is available at www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.

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