A group of about 100 snowmobilers is coming to the Snowy Range this weekend, and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer is taking the opportunity to put out some key information about snowmobiling in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

In a press release, Officer Nadeau says preparation is key.

The first step for snowmobilers is to purchase a Wyoming registration sticker before operating any snowmobile or over-snow device in the state. Registration can be completed online at wyotrails.state.wy.us, over the phone at 877-996-7275, or at locations throughout the state listed on the State Trails website. Registration fees are used to create and maintain trails.

Avalanche awareness is a crucial element of safety. Nadeau recommends checking avalanche conditions before riding at avalanche.org.  The Medicine Bow National Forest has an avalanche conditions observation website.

Nadeau says people should carry avalanche transponders and avalanche probes at all times and be familiar with the equipment. The agency also recommends taking an avalanche training course.

Awareness is key. Nadeau says snowmobilers must always know where they are riding in order to avoid life-threatening situations that can be brought on by rapid changes in weather conditions.

Some areas are closed to snowmobiles in order to preserve wildlife habitat, protect wilderness, and reduce user conflicts. Wilderness areas and wilderness study areas are closed to all motorized vehicles. It is illegal to enter a closed area and violators may be prosecuted.  The local Forest Service office offers maps so riders can be aware of safe and legal riding areas.

Nadeau asks that anyone who sees someone riding in a closed area contact the local office.

It is illegal to harass or pursue wildlife, domesticated animals, or livestock. Nadeau says such actions ruin the experience of other visitors and cause wildlife great stress. Anyone who sees someone harassing wildlife can contact Wyoming Game and Fish at 877-943-3847. Reports of someone harassing livestock or domesticated animals can be reported to the appropriate county sheriff’s office.

Nadeau recommends preparing for any and all situations before heading out. Snowmobiles should be fully fueled before each ride. Riders should be familiar with how the machine operates and have spare drive belts and spark plugs.

Warm, layered clothing – with a wicking layer as a base – will help protect from the elements. Nadeau lists a helmet and goggles as essential protective equipment for riding, regardless of terrain.

There are advantages to carrying a GPS, but spare batteries or a way of recharging the device are important. Nadeau says people should not use a smartphone as the only GPS.

The Forest Service recommends cold-weather survival gear such as a survival blanket, fire-starting equipment, a flashlight and emergency signaling tools.

Finally, Nadeau recommends that snowmobilers always ride with a buddy and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.