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Wasatch County SAR Rescues Drivers Stuck On Snowmobile Trails

Wasatch County Search and Rescue

A number of people driving cars have recently ventured and gotten stuck on snowmobile trails in Wasatch County.

As the snow begins to melt at the bottom of trails, car drivers will start their trek up paths meant for snowmobiles. A couple miles up the mountain - where temperatures are colder - there are still inches of snowpack, and cars eventually get stuck and can’t turn around. 

In the past few weeks Wasatch County Search and Rescue has seen a couple of these cases. In one instance last Friday evening, a car couldn’t get out of the snow near Wolfcreek Summit. 

County Search and Rescue Captain Kam Kohler said what makes it even more dangerous is that many of these trails don't have cell phone service. He said the driver on Friday was lucky. 

"This time of year, usually, you might have two or three snowmobilers a week go down that road," Kohler said. "They just happened to be going down the road when he was stuck. Otherwise the guy stranded two and a half miles up a snowpack road without the gear {would have to} walk out, but walking out was his only way to get out of it." 

He said these rescues generally happen 5-6 times a year typically in spring and fall, and he’s not entirely sure what’s driving it. 

"I've heard it all, you know, I just was out on a joy ride. I've heard Google said that I could make it over this hill," he said. "But people need to just use common sense and go, should I really be taking my car up a groomed snowmobile trail that has lots of snow? Is that smart?"

He said some of the drivers have an overconfidence in their cars, while others forget to take snow into account. Either way, he said people are putting themselves at risk without knowing the consequences.  

"Driving on snow in Utah is always an adventure," he said. "Driving up a snowpack road that is designed for snowmobiles is always a disaster for you."

Kohler said search and rescue saves people, not equipment - meaning they can rescue the people in the car but they can’t tow the vehicle for liability reasons. That’s why he said it’s always best to know before you go.


Jessica joins KPCW as a general assignment reporter and Sunday Weekend Edition host. A Florida native, she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English — concentrating in film studies — and journalism. Before moving to Utah, she spent time in Atlanta, GA.
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