Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges recreationists to prepare, practice safety on frozen waters

Steamboat Pilot & Today staff
Zach Szloboda pulls up the auger after punching a hole in the ice in January 2020 on Lake Granby during the Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest. As the weather gets colder, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are encouraging people to prepare to be safe on the ice.
Eli Pace /

While frozen waters provide unique recreational opportunities, they can also pose significant danger.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging Coloradans to take precaution and bring the correct equipment when looking to ice fish, skate, sled or snowshoe on frozen bodies of water.

“When you fall into icy waters, cold water immersion shock can cause you to involuntarily gasp and inhale water,” said Grant Brown, the boating safety program manager for Parks and Wildlife, in a news release. “Your body will conserve heat by reducing blood flow to your arms and legs, making it difficult to swim and pull yourself out of a hole in the ice. Bringing the correct equipment like a life jacket, ice picks and warm clothes can save your life.”

Parks and Wildlife officials say it’s important to check weather and ice conditions with whatever agency manages the body of water before trekking onto it. According to the news release, recreationists should always assume unsafe ice conditions may exist, as a number of factors can alter the thickness of ice at different points on the water. Officials recommend drilling test holes to measure thickness, with 4 inches generally considered to be safe for ice fishing and skating.

When people are able to venture out onto frozen lakes, Parks and Wildlife officials urge them to bring the right equipment, dress in warm clothes and layers and to wear a life jacket. Some other essential items include a whistle, rope and ice picks, which can all aid in rescue efforts should someone fall through the ice.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers ice fishing and ice safety classes during the winter, which can be found on the agency’s online calendar. For more information on ice conditions and ice safety tips, go to

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