Minutes matter: Learn about avalanche safety for free in downtown Steamboat

Directions and a control panel are located on a sign below Barrow's chairlift at Howelsen Hill on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.
Kit Geary/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Conveniently located at the bottom of Howelsen Hill between Wren’s run and the Barrows chairlift, the Beacon Training Park is open for a second season of avalanche education and training, offering free and easily accessible information for people of all ages.

With Steamboat on pace to see more than 400 inches of snow this season and avalanche warnings continuing to roll in, Routt County Search and Rescue is urging residents to remember that minutes matter when it comes to using safety equipment properly.

“We wanted a place where folks could easily grab their gear, come over and practice,” said Emily Hines, marketing and communications coordinator for Steamboat Springs.

A sign at the training park includes a mounted control panel that hooks up to six waterproof beacons buried throughout the hillside. The sign provides safety information and directions on how to operate the beacon system. Users can flip a switch that turns on the beacons, allowing participants to then go out and perform searches. 

“From a search and rescue side, we just want to make it super accessible to be able to go out and practice life saving tactics,” Hines said. “It’s a matter of minutes or seconds to really make a difference when it comes to an avalanche search. People need to stay updated and practice with equipment in order to utilize it during an emergency when you are stressed.”

Routt County Search and Rescue partnered with the city to open Beacon Basin in 2021 after receiving a grant for the software. The program strives to educate recreationists in a safe and accessible environment, aided by its location in the middle of town.

Information on avalanche danger in the Steamboat area and around the state can be found at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website at

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