NCW — State and federal agencies are warning that Sno-Parks are filling up and crowds are creating safety issues.

Agencies in October thought that recreation this winter might be high after summer visits showed about a 150% increase in traffic as people headed outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Robin DeMario, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Service spokesperson.

It appears those predictions came true. The Forest Service posted on Facebook on Dec. 30 that parking areas at Sno-Parks were full and drivers were parking on the side of highways and blocking other vehicles.

Vehicles that are parked illegally can be ticketed and towing, according to the Forest Service news release.

State Parks also issued a notice saying that parking lots are filling up early and cars are getting stuck.

“As COVID-19 restrictions continue to limit indoor entertainment and gatherings, people are flocking to the outdoors, despite dropping temperatures,” the news release stated.

The agency also said Sno-Parks may be closed when they reach capacity and during bad weather.

Congestion is also causing confusion over trail etiquette, according to State Parks.

Here are the trail guidelines:

  • Snowshoers should stick to the side and stay off of cross-country ski tracks
  • Skate-skiers should keep off of groomed ski tracks
  • Dogsleds and skijoring teams should stay off of groomed tracks
  • Skiers and snowshoers should yield to snowmobilers and dog teams
  • Snowmobilers should slow down when passing skiers, snowshoers and dog teams

Visitors to recreation areas should be prepared for winter travel. The Forest Service recommends:

  • Checking Forest Service roads for closures
  • Be wary of deep snow on roads and prepare to turn around
  • Carry a snow shovel, extra clothes, blanket or sleeping bag, extra food and water in vehicles
  • Tell someone where you’re going
  • Do not go around barriers on closed roads
  • Call the local ranger station for road and trail conditions
  • Check for avalanche danger at

Tony Buhr: 664-7123 or

on Twitter @TonyBuhr