Snowpokes Work to Add Year-Round Safety Shelter to Continental Divide Trail

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A snowmobile parked at a backcountry warming hut. Photo by Joey Clarke.

ROCK SPRINGS – A local snowmobile group has hopes to make the snowmobile trails from Lander to Yellowstone a little safer with a permanent safety hut at a site known as Strawberry Creek on the Upper Green River.

For years, the Sweetwater Snowpokes Snowmobile & ATV Club have worked with other snowmobile clubs in the region to manage a temporary skid structure that gets dragged in with the first big snow every winter and dragged out again. They’d like to see that made permanent.

Strawberry Creek is one stop along the Continental Divide Trail, which was established in the early 1970s and connects Lander to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It’s located in the Wind River Mountains west of Dubois on national forest land.

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Pete Leibee, a Snowpoke and snowmobile dealer in Rock Springs, said it’s the next step in developing those trails.

It’s already an up-and-coming gathering location because it has a his-and-hers restroom, said Leibee.

It would be more than just a warming hut. It would have a satellite phone and emergency supplies.

Rough location of proposed permanent safety structure at Strawberry Creek.

According to Leibee, the safety hut is important because advances in snowmobile technology have made it possible for people to venture far off-trail into the backcountry.

“These machines go places you couldn’t even think about 40 years ago. Most of the machines used to have to stick to the trail,” said Leibee.

He also said that with the presence of grizzly bears in the area, it’s going to beneficial year-round as a safety shelter.

The structure would follow the examples of safety shelters nearby, such as the one put in around 8 years ago at Blucher Creek. It would be similar in size to the Blind Bull Safety Shelter on the border between Lincoln and Sublette Counties.

Leibee said they’ve been getting support from other groups that use the trail, such as the mountain biking clubs that use it in the summer. He said they’ve got somewhat of a green light from the U.S. Forest Service to bring them a plan.

“We need to take care of what we’ve got and try to improve it,” said Leibee.