Winter Emergency Kit

Be Prepared This Winter! Pack an Emergency Kit.

Driving in snow can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous; 17% of all car accidents occur in winter weather conditions! It is important to be prepared for whatever is thrown your way, whether you hit ice and slide into a ditch or your car breaks down. We recommend keeping a basic emergency kit in your car at all times so you are prepared if something happens. This list covers the basics on what you need!

Emergency Kit

Emergency Kit Essentials:

  1. First Aid Kit – A first-aid kit is something you should always keep in your car. While it won’t help with major medical issues, you can at least bandage any scrapes or cuts! If you are prescribed any medication, keep some labeled in your first aid kit in case you are stranded.
  2. Flashlight – It is really, really dark at night during a snow storm! Pack a good flashlight or headlamp in your emergency kit. This can be extremely useful if you need to work on your car in the dark. USB charging is a big plus on these!
  3. Ice Scraper – Your car’s defroster doesn’t always work as quickly or as well as it needs to. Put an ice scraper in your kit so you can clear your windshield in icy conditions. Low visibility through your windshield can be very dangerous!
  4. Jumper Cables – The rest of your car emergency kit isn’t much good if you can’t start the car! Jumper cables allow you to start your car with a dead battery using another car. These can be really helpful year-round. Just be sure you’re putting them on correctly, or you risk damaging the electrical components in your car.
  5. Snow Shovel – This one is pretty straightforward… If you are stuck in the snow, a snow shovel can help you get out. You don’t need a full size shovel in your emergency kit, smaller shovels are made for this specific purpose!
  6. Bag Of Cat Litter – The main reason cars get stuck in the snow is lack of traction. If you find yourself in a position where your tires are spinning on ice or snow you can simply sprinkle cat litter behind the tire to add traction! We recommend keeping at least a couple gallons bagged up, as you may go through a lot!
  7. Cell Phone Charger – Your phone is pretty much useless without a charge! Keep a car charger and a portable battery charged up in your car to be sure you’re never stuck with a dead phone. It’s also a good idea to keep your emergency contact numbers written down somewhere in your car, so you can still call them on someone else’s phone.
  8. Water – Dehydration can be a serious problem if you are stranded. Keep at least a gallon of water in your emergency kit. Keep in mind water expands when it is frozen, so if you’re filling your own container leave some room at the top.
  9. Blanket – Winter is cold! Pack at least one good, thick blanket to keep you warm if you need to stay in your car. If you have room for a second blanket, pack a tough one that you could lay on under your car if needed during repairs. Military wool blankets work well for everything.
  10. Tool Kit – Just like the first-aid kit, a basic tool kit can be useful year-round! From small repairs to tire changes, there are many uses for tools. If your car requires any special tools (European cars often use Torx bolts) be sure to pack those into your tool kit.
  11. Roadside Reflectors – Breaking down on the side of the road can put you at risk of being hit by passing drivers; especially in low visibilty scenarios like a winter storm! Roadside reflectors or road triangles help other drivers know where you are and that you may need assistance. They take up little room and are definitely a good item to keep with you.
  12. Non-Perishable Food – If you are stranded in your car, you will probably need an energy boost at some point. Keep non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, dehydrated fruits, and jerky in your emergency kit for that little extra energy kick! Don’t forget to rotate snacks out every few months so you are never stuck with bad food.
  13. Matches/Lighter – Matches or a lighter can provide you with some light and warmth in an emergency. Pack waterproof matches so they can’t be ruined by moisture. Disposable lighters such as a bic or clipper lighter are best as they won’t leak fluid and they work in cold conditions.
  14. Insulated Work Gloves – If you need to work on your car in the snow, you are probably going to want a good pair of gloves! Insulated work gloves are the best choice for an emergency kit. They will keep you warm and hold up to any abuse you throw at them.

This list should give you a good base to build your own emergency kit from! Winter driving can be treacherous so we hope this kit can help you this winter season! If you are reading this wishing you lived somewhere snowy, give us a call at (970) 507-8655 and we can help you find your Next Home in the mountains! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for NextHome updates and our bi-weekly virtual open house series.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas Trees in The National Forest

For many people, going out to cut down a Christmas Tree is a valued family tradition passed down from generation to generation. It is a great way to bond as a family in our beautiful National Forests. Pagosa Springs has an abundance of tree-cutting areas and opportunity, so you are sure to find the perfect tree for you and your family! The Forest Service provides some excellent guides for identifying trees and cutting them:

Christmas Tree Cutting1024_1Christmas Tree Cutting1024_2 Christmas Tree ID1024_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The San Juan National Forest offers permits (priced at $8) to go out and find the perfect tree for your family! Not only will you get a Christmas Tree for the year, but you are also contributing to the conservation of our forests, and fire mitigation as well! If you are unsure where to find a tree, you can contact the Forest Service here and they will answer any questions you may have! *Permits will go on sale November 12, 2020.

Southwest Colorado is a great place to enjoy a snowy Christmas. Give us a call today at (970) 507-8655! We would love to help you find your Next Home!

Wolf Creek Pass

Covered In Snow!

It snowed in Colorado this past weekend… A lot! Wolf Creek Pass received 14 inches of powder overnight, and Pagosa Springs woke up to steady snowfall! With snow starting to fall, now is the time to prepare your home for winter. Check our Winter Prep Guide out to see what you should do to prepare for winter!

Wolf Creek Pass

It isn’t too cold to sell your home or buy a dream home! Give us a call at (970) 507-8655 to talk to a Southwest Colorado real estate expert! If you would like to look at our current listings in Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas, click here!

Wildfire Defensible Space

Wildfire Defensible Buffer Zones

wildfires

Wildfire Buffer Zones can be used to reduce fire damage to buildings and sensitive areas in landscapes prone to wildfire. This guide from the USDA National Agroforestry Center shows what you can do to to increase the defensible space around your home and property. If you have any additional questions regarding wildfire safety, see the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s website here.

Zone 1. A minimum of 30 feet is needed for firefighters to protect a structure from wildfire. On a slope, increase the distance to 100 feet downhill of the structure. Use low growing and low flammability plants, spaced apart from each other. Remove dead material.

Zone 2. Deciduous trees and shrubs and widely-spaced conifers may be used in Zone 2. Remove branches within 8 feet of the ground (but no more than 30 percent of the height of the tree) and space trees so that crowns remain at least 10 feet apart at maturity. Remove ladder fuels which are tree limbs and other materials that allow fire to burn into the tree crown.

Zone 3. Manage this zone to maintain forest stand health and other landowner objectives. Limit number of dead trees or snags but save some for wildlife (1 to 2 snags/acre). Check with your local forester for additional guidelines.

Characteristics of Low Flammability Plants

• Supple moist leaves and water-like, thin sap

• Little or no accumulation of dead vegetation on the plant

• Open and loose branching structure

Source: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nac/buffers/guidelines/5_protection/11.html

If you liked this post be sure to check our others out here! We would love to help you find your Next Home. Give us a call at (970) 507-8655 to talk to a Southwest Colorado expert! You can view our current featured listings here.

Healthier Mountain Living

Why Living In The Mountains Is Healthier

It’s easy to fall in love with the mountains. Fresh air is abundant, the weather is fairly temperate, and the views are some of the best mother nature has to offer. Living in the mountains can actually be healthier for you too, believe it or not. If you don’t believe me, here are a few facts to convince you!

Healthier
Lake San Cristobal – Photo By: Gavin Kiker

 

  • Inspiration To Be Active  The rocky mountains are inspirational simply by nature. The peaks tower over everything else, begging to be seen. When you are surrounded by views as beautiful as the rocky mountains, you are sure to become inspired to explore and be active!
  • Altitude Burns Calories – Studies have proven that the human body burns more calories while expending energy at high altitude than it does while at lower altitudes. This means that a mile hike in the mountains will burn more calories than the same hike down lower; plus you get to enjoy the mountain views!
  • Clean Air – There’s nothing better than taking a deep breath of fresh mountain air. Less pollution at higher altitudes can directly improve asthma symptoms and other acute respiratory symptoms. The smell of pine, which is especially common in the rockies, has been proven to help alleviate stress and depression. If you have trouble sleeping, try to find some lavender at the base of the pines. It can help you fall asleep!
  • Less Risk Of Heart Disease – Studies have shown that people who live at higher altitudes can have a certain gene activated that significantly decreases the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease. When your body has to work harder every day to take in oxygen, it automatically improves your cardiovascular fitness! This makes your heart stronger and more resilient to rough conditions.
  • Statistically Longer Life Span – Researchers have found that the 10 million people who live over 4,900ft above sea level typically live one to three years longer than people living closer to sea level. This is just another benefit of living at high altitude!

Thanks for reading through today’s post! If you have any questions, or if you would like to talk with a NextHomie, give us a call at (970) 507-8655. To view our current listings, see our featured homes page here. We can’t wait to help you find your Next Home.

Fall Colors

The Best Drives For Fall Colors

Fall is here, and fall colors aren’t far behind! You can find beautiful scenery just about everywhere in this state, but the roads listed below are some of the best to see the bright yellows and oranges of autumn!

Fall Colors
Photo By: Gavin Kiker 
  1. San Juan Skyway – The San Juan Skyway is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the country. This 232 mile loop will take you through two National Forests, four mountain passes, and nine historic Colorado mountain towns. It takes roughly 7 hours to drive the loop all the way through, but we recommend taking your time and exploring along the way! Even if you choose to tackle just one section of the loop, you are sure to find large swathes of fall colors and beautiful scenery. Most of this drive is 2wd-friendly, but some parts may require higher clearance. If you are scared of heights, be warned there are some steep drop-offs as well as sections of road without guardrails in several spots on this drive.
  2. Boreas Pass – Boreas Pass Road stretches the 20 miles between Como and Breckenridge. This easily-accessible mountain road reaches 11,493 feet above sea level and eventually crosses the Continental Divide! This wonderful road has less traffic than others during the fall, making it a great area to see the colors change without crowds. The aspens on this road may form a tunnel in certain spots, making for a truly amazing view. This road is easily accessible by 2wd vehicles with low ground clearance.
  3. Kebler Pass – Kebler Pass is an awesome high-mountain pass connecting Crested Butte with Paonia to the West. This pass reaches 10,007 feet above sea level at it’s summit in the Gunnison National Forest. This drive takes you through one of the largest aspen groves in the United States, in the West Elk Mountains. You will travel West from Crested Butte to Highway 133, just north of the tiny mining village of Somerset. The road is accessible by low-clearance 2wd vehicles and takes roughly 2 hours to drive through. It is open seasonally, May through November.
  4. Trail Ridge Road – Trail Ridge Road is a stretch of US Hwy 34 that takes you from the East side of Estes Park to Grand Lake, CO in the West. It is the highest paved through road in Colorado, peaking at 12,183 feet above sea level. 11 miles of this road are above the tree line, making for great, almost aerial views of the autumn colors below. Driving straight through takes roughly 2 hours, but there are enough pull-outs, scenic overlooks, and side trails to make this drive a full daytrip!
  5. Last Dollar Road – Last Dollar Road is an unpaved, seasonal (Summer & Fall) route that takes you from Ridgeway, CO to Telluride, CO. This trail gives you fully unobstructed views of Wilson Peak and the Sneffels Mountain Range. The fall colors will really start to show around mid-September, making Last Dollar Road a great destination for photographers.
  6. Independence Pass – Independence Pass, the highest paved pass in the United States, passes over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen. This pass is 32 miles long and summits at 12,095 feet above sea level. There are many places to stop and take in the views along this road. Roaring Fork River hugs the road for several miles and there are also several great aspen grove views along the way.
  7. Alpine Loop – Alpine Loop is a circular route that takes you over Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass. It connects Lake City with Ouray and Silverton. The loop is 65 miles long and can be completed in as little as 7 hours. There are several abandoned mining and old west features along the trail that you can explore; they make for interesting foregrounds in your fall color photos!
  8. Pikes Peak Highway – Pikes Peak Highway is 19 miles each way and takes about 2 hours round trip to drive. Once to the top, you are greeted with 360 degree views of the mountains, including the front range. Pikes Peak highway is a great place for large panoramas of the changing fall colors!
  9. Bachelor Loop Tour –  The Bachelor Loop Tour is a 17 mile loop that takes you through the historic mining district above Creede, CO. This 4wd-accessible road takes you through several ghost towns from the mining boom, some of which once rivaled Creede in size! There are many photo opportunities along this loop so be sure to bring your camera. High clearance vehicles are recommended for the best experience.

These are just a handful of the hundreds of places to see the Fall colors Colorado is so known for. If you are wanting to plan a trip, but can’t decide when, the Forest Service has a regularly updated Fall Color Report that tells you what stage the leaves are at! If all this talk about Colorado has made you want a home of your own here, you can view our featured listings or give us a call at (970) 507-8655!

Crazy Colorado Weather

Snow In September!

Colorado is having trouble making up it’s mind on the weather this month! The beginning of the month held several 90F+ days and forest fires throughout the state. September 8th however, we experienced a temperature drop of nearly 50 degrees and enough rain and snow to leave the ground muddy! Wolf Creek Pass got 13 inches of snow, A full 13 days before the solstice!

Snow In September
Wolf Creek Ski Area

This moisture is greatly appreciated, even if it’s a little early! Visit our website to view property available for sale in this winter wonderland!

 

Off to the Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Sometimes staying in the same place for too long can be tiring, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, Southern Colorado is full of places to explore! If you are having trouble deciding where to go or just looking for somewhere to escape for the day, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great place to start!

Topping out at around 755 feet high, these impressive sand dunes are the tallest in North America. The dunes are surrounded by the 14,000 ft. peaks of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range, the Southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains. The contrast between the light sand of the dunes and the dark greens and blues of the mountains makes for a truly stunning view. If you like taking photos, you are sure to enjoy this area!

Sand Dunes
Photo By: Gavin Kiker

In addition to taking in the views, visitors to the Great Sand Dunes can enjoy hiking and camping all throughout the park, splashing in Medano Creek when it’s flowing, and even sand-boarding and sledding. (Think snowboarding but with sand.) Sand toys are available to rent right before entering the park.

If driving slow offroad is more your speed, the Medano Pass Primitive Road may be for you! This 22 mile 4wd-only trail connects the Great Sand Dunes with Wet Mountain Valley and Colorado State Highway 69. The trail crosses Medano Creek nine times, and also takes you through some deep sand and even Bighorn Sheep habitat at the higher elevations.

Whether you want to backpack in and spend the night, or just pack a picnic and take some photos, Great Sand Dunes National Park makes for a wonderful Southern Colorado day trip! If you would like to see our featured homes in the area, click here. Don’t forget to like NextHome Rocky Mountain Realty & Rentals on Facebook for weekly virtual open houses and more!

Scenic Drives In Pagosa

The Best Scenic Drives For Your Colorado Vacation

Pagosa Springs is home to some of the best scenic roads in Colorado. With more than 3 million acres of National Forest and wilderness areas, you are almost guaranteed to fall in love with these views as you head down the road. Below is a list of some of the best scenic drives Pagosa has to offer:

  1. Mill Creek Road – Turn off of Hwy 84 onto Mill Creek Road, next to the county fairgrounds. At 32 miles round trip, this road provides great panoramic views of Squaretop Mountain, as well as the upper San Juan Valley and the Blanco Basin. All but the last mile or so is accessible with any conventional vehicle, however 4wd is recommended if it has been raining. The road dead-ends, so you must return via the same route.
  2. Blanco Basin Road – Head south down Hwy 84 to the Blanco Basin Turnoff (CR 326) for amazing views of the Continental Divide, Squaretop Mountain, and Oil Mountain. If you have time for a  quick (6 mile) side trip, I recommend taking a right turn onto Castle Creek Road (FS 660) across the Rio Blanco to Fish Creek. These roads dead-end and are approximately 40mi round trip.
  3. Lobo Overlook – Accessible from June to September, this spectacular overlook is located on the summit of Wolf Creek Pass on the North side of the road. With restrooms and a picnic area at the top, this is a great place to stop for a quick photo-shoot or just a lunch break! Accessible by conventional vehicles.
  4. Plumtaw/Piedra Loop –  This 35 mile long Forest Service Access road begins in town as Four Mile Road and soon transitions into one of the highest forest roads in the area; making for great vistas and fall foliage opportunities. As Plumtaw transitions into Piedra Road (CR600,) you will cross over the Piedra River, and pass by the beautiful Piedra Gorge. This dirt road is accessible by all vehicles in the summer and fall months.
  5. East Fork – Located 10 miles down Hwy 160 on the right, East Fork provides incredible scenic views of “beehive” rock formations, as well as many valley and river views. The drive includes 2 river crossings, as well as some technical terrain so 4 wheel drive and high clearance is required. At the upper end of the valley there is a fork; going left will take you over Elwood Pass all the way to Summitville.

These are just a few of the many scenic drives Pagosa has to offer. It is recommended to check road conditions and closings here ahead of time so your drive goes as smoothly as possible. Drive Safe and don’t be afraid to explore!Scenic Roads

Free Fishing Weekend – June 6 to June 7, 2020

 

 

Free Fishing Weekend – June 6 to June 7, 2020

                  A great time to try fishing in Colorado!

fishing1 fish2

The fish are starting to bite at waters all around the state. To give everyone an opportunity to get out and get some hits, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is inviting resident and nonresident anglers of all ages to participate in its annual Free Fishing Weekend on June 6 to 7. The free fishing weekend is a great way to get outside with family and friends and take advantage of Colorado’s extensive opportunities to fish for a myriad of cold and warm water fish species.

Tips & Hotspots

There are many resources that Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers to help those interested in fishing throughout the state:

  • Fishing Report– This report offers a weekly fishing report from lakes all around Colorado
  • Fishing Atlas– This is an interactive map that shows the many waters people can fish in Colorado
  • 101 Places to Take a Kid Fishing– this webpage has an interactive map showing all of the possible places to take a kid fishing
  • Stocking Report– The stocking report shows lakes, ponds, and rivers that have been stocked with catchable (9 to 12 inch) trout in Colorado.

https://cpw.state.co.us/free-fishing-weekend