CODY — Drivers in the Shoshone National Forest have a new set of maps to help navigate the hundreds of miles of public roads and vehicle trails winding across thousands of acres of rugged and scenic country.
The maps are being released for the first time as mandated under a 2005 federal rule that governs travel management in all national forests, said Wapiti District Ranger Terry Root. They do not open or close any new routes, and will be updated every year.
Shoshone Forest staff members hosted open houses on Wednesday in Cody and Dubois to distribute free copies and to answer questions about the maps, which detail where motorized vehicles may be used in the forest. An open house is scheduled for tonight in Lander.
Two maps show routes in separate zones of the Shoshone Forest. The north zone map shows the Clarks Fork, Greybull and Wapiti Ranger Districts, while the south zone map shows the Washakie and Wind River Ranger districts.
Matt Norby, a member of the Powell Valley 4 Wheelers club, stopped by the Cody open house to get a copy of the map, and to discuss opportunities for club members to work with Forest Service staffers in maintaining a few popular trails.
Some trails, like one along Sulphur Creek in Sunlight Basin and the Morrison Jeep Trail leading to the Clarks Fork Canyon, have suffered from erosion and become overgrown in places, limiting jeep and truck access, Norby said.
Roads that decades ago were frequently traveled by jeeps and trucks are degenerating into trails that can only be traveled by all-terrain vehicles, he said.
“We don’t want to make it a highway. We just want to enjoy a challenge,” he said, adding that members of other four-wheeler clubs from Billings often join excursions organized by the Powell group.
“It’s just a good family weekend. Sometimes we camp out, but mainly it’s just about getting out on the dirt roads with families,” he said.
Ben Jackson, also of Powell, said he planned to join the Powell Valley 4 Wheelers to help preserve existing trails. He said he feared that overgrown and unused trails might eventually be closed to the public.
Ron Ostrom, a Forest Service law enforcement officer, said most vehicle violations result from resource damage caused by off-road travel.
Vehicles are not allowed in any of the more than 1.5 million wilderness acres of the forest, and may be used only on established, delineated roads. No off-road vehicle travel is allowed anywhere in the forest.
Roads not shown on the maps are not open to the public, although some unlisted roads may be used by Forest Service staff for administrative travel, or for law enforcement, firefighting or permitted special-use access.
Root said that using a Forest Service vehicle use map is important for those exploring remote areas by four-wheel drive, as some routes may not be marked by signs, while the map shows all routes, and is used as an enforcement tool.
Separate maps provided by the State Trails Program, part of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, show specific ATV and snowmobile trails, he said.
Maps are available for free at local ranger district offices in Cody, Dubois and Lander, and will be distributed to gas stations, visitor centers and other outlets later this year. Digital versions can be downloaded from the Forest Service web site.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at email@example.com or 307-527-7250.