USFS Reopens Bear Creek!

Backcountry lovers will no longer have to “break the law” to fulfill their powder dreams and extreme-skiing desires. According to a United States Forest Service press release, a Bear Creek backcountry access gate has been reinstalled at the top of Palmyra Peak, granting all who make the hour-and-a-half trek from Prospect Bowl to the peak’s summit with legal, public access to Lena Basin, Alta Lakes and of course, Bear Creek.

For all of those unaware of the issue, the three gates that provided skiers and snowboarders with Bear Creek access in the past were suddenly closed in December, due to a property rights dilemma between the USFS and private landowners (most notably Tom Chapman). The entire town was outraged by the decision, but even though skiing the area was considered “trespassing,” no one seemed to stop hitting up Eagle’s Nest and Deep and Dangerous.

Now, although this reopening is a small step, it is a step in the right direction. With legal access being provided from the ski area into Bear Creek, it is only a matter of time (hopefully) before more gates will be established. But, regardless of what happens, big props must be given to the Telluride Mountain Club for working hard all season to reopen access, and for covering the issue with a fine tooth comb.

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