Winter Snow-User Surveys

Top Image: Low Snow at Rock Creek Lake on 01/16/21. Now that pavement is likely under several feet of snow!

This winter, Friends of the Inyo is excited to reprise a program last undertaken in the winter of 2016-17: the Winter Snow-User Surveys!

On weekends and National Holidays from January 16 to March 28, Lindsay Butcher and I have been and will be at Rock Creek Road getting an idea of how much use our winter trailheads see, while also acting as a resource for local information and any comments, queries, or concerns the public may have. We will also be traveling to Monache Meadows on the southern end of the Inyo National Forest for a three-day weekend of data collection during Presidents’ Weekend.

At the end of the season, the data we collect will be used by Friends of the Inyo’s policy team to inform use suggestions and comments to the Inyo National Forest as they continue to engage in Over Snow Vehicle planning exercises.

One of my favorite aspects of wintertime outdoor recreation is the critter tracks. Here a vole (my guess) makes a cool design.


In the three short weeks of surveying thus far it’s been real night and day from week to week. From 47 degrees and a mere 12.5 centimeters of snow depth at the Snow-Park Trailhead the first week, to a sunny, bluebird powder day and a whopping 67.5 centimeters of snow depth…at the new trailhead all the way down at Crowley Lake Drive, a stone’s throw from Highway 395.

This last storm has been a great boon to our ability to enjoy our snowy landscapes this season, but with it comes the always present danger of avalanches. In the Eastern Sierra, we are truly lucky to have the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center provide critical education, outreach, and daily avalanche reports. These daily reports are a must for anyone heading out for a day of snowy fun, as they are thorough, expert analyses of our snowpack and how it can affect us.

We’re looking forward to another couple of months of seeing how many of you enjoy using our public lands during the winter months. If you see us out there, be sure to say hi, and stay safe!