Mountain Safety Tips

The rich variety of recreation in Garfield County is accented by its beautiful mountains, canyons, rivers, lakes, and forests. Garfield County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) hopes that the time that you spend in our great outdoors is safe and relaxing. This information is intended to help you prepare for your outdoor adventures.


“If you don’t like the current weather, wait a few minutes and it will change.” This well known Colorado phrase is very true of the weather in our mountains. You can see every type of precipitation any time of the year. The dangers of hypothermia exist even in the summer. Your best preparation is to check the local forecast and bring along clothing layers for rain, wind, and warmth as well as a hat and gloves suitable for any season.

In the event of lightning, stay low to the ground and away from isolated trees and exposed metal. Keep away from exposed areas where you are the tallest object.

Call these numbers or check these links for the latest on weather and avalanche information:

The Weather Channel  Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Avalanche Information (November through April):  970-482-0457

Colorado Avalanche Information Center


The altitude in Garfield County and neighboring counties ranges from 5,761 ft to 12,354. The effects of altitude can come on quickly and can be dangerous. Symptoms include nausea, headache, shortness of breath and other effects. Your best preparation is to keep yourself well hydrated and not too hot or too cold. If you feel the effects of altitude, turn around and head back down the trail. You can always reach your original objective another day.

Preparing for your adventure

Here are the steps you should always follow when heading into the mountains away from civilization:

  • Let someone know where you are going, your route, and when you expect to return. Notify them when you do return or if your plans change.
  • Bring several layers of synthetic or wool clothes. You can get very hot hiking, but can cool down quickly after stopping. Make sure that you have a windproof and waterproof layer.
  • Bring a hat and sunglasses. Always wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Wear good footwear with ankle support and a firm sole with a secure grip.
  • Carry a compass and map of the area. Learn how to use them!
  • Carry emergency equipment such as matches, shelter, first aid kit, whistle, signal mirror, and a flashlight.
  • Take ample food and about 2 quarts of water per person per day.
  • Keep your party together. DON’T SEPARATE!

What to do for accidents/lost persons

  • Determine the location of the injured party or the last place you saw the lost person.
  • If a person is injured, treat their injuries as best you can. If possible leave someone behind to care for them. Leave adequate food, water, clothes, and survival gear for the subject.
  • Call 911 to notify the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department of the incident. They will direct you from there and will notify Garfield County Search and Rescue if we are needed.

What to do if you are lost

  • Stop walking! Hug-a-Tree!!
  • Draw attention to yourself any safe way possible. Yell back if you hear your name called. Blow your whistle!
  • Keep calm! Pull out your survival gear, build a shelter, build a fire if necessary, and wait. Garfield County Search and Rescue will find you, that’s why we train so much!