Backcountry COVID-19 Closures Come To The East -- Tuckerman Ravine, NH Closed In Part To Overcrowding

As state-issued orders to stay home and social distancing guidelines continue to be in effect, the public continues to not follow those orders causing bans and closures to backcountry areas nationwide. This now includes one of the most popular backcountry areas in New England.

Closure warning of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail -- Credit: Mount Washington Avalanche Center

"A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed to all use. This section extends from Lunch Rocks to the top of the Headwall, where it meets the Alpine Garden Trail. The closure includes skiing and riding the Lip and Sluice. This annual closure (36CFR261.55(a)) is designed to protect the public and rescuers from the hazards associated with the waterfall and crevasses which are just beginning to emerge. Violating this closure is a misdemeanor offense and will be enforced. Additionally, all facilities that provide amenities for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine are now closed. This includes bathrooms, camping, and all shelter." - Mount Washington Avalanche Center News Bulletin, March 30, 2020

Though the annual closure is going into effect, this closure was prompted, at least in part, by the number of visitors that have been showing up to ski and ride Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. The Mount Washington Avalanche Center posted to their social media pages that more than 400 people, approximately 50% of which were from out of state, descended on Tuckerman Ravine this Saturday, March 28th.

An official report of the closing of the area comes with the final news bulletin and avalanche and mountain safety forecast from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for the 2019/2020 season.

"The USFS Mount Washington Avalanche Center has issued its final avalanche and mountain safety forecast for the 2019/20 season.

At this time, the need to reduce exposure of workers and forest visitors to the novel coronavirus outweighs the value of providing avalanche safety information to backcountry travelers. This decision was made in order to better provide for public health and safety by reducing interactions between the recreating public, USFS employees and volunteers. NH Governor’s Order Section 18 of Executive Order 2020-04, part 4 requests that the public limit non-essential travel and further defines essential businesses and activities. Among the allowed activities are “leaving home for outdoor recreation” or “to get fresh air and exercise” provided that appropriate social distancing protocols are observed. The travel and social congregation that have continued to occur in Tuckerman Ravine, nearby trails, and parking areas suggest that more aggressive measures are needed in order to comply with state and federal guidelines intended to reduce the spread and impact of coronavirus."
- Mount Washington Avalanche Center News Bulletin, March 30, 2020

The closure of the route will hopefully discourage people from showing up to head into the ravine, thus helping out with the need for social distancing, avoiding large gatherings of people, and helping to reduce the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. New Hampshire, like many other states, is under order to stay inside and minimize contact, via social distancing guidelines, during the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Also, with E.M.S. services having their hands full with the outbreak, they will not be able to provide as effective rescue measures for anyone that has issues in the backcountry. It is just safer to stay at home and closer to home for those that can venture outside.

Top Photo: Tuckerman Ravine, Spring 2014 - Credit: jjvoll / CC BY-SA


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