Winter Safety

An icy and snowy empty parking lot
Visit the monument in the winter by parking at the only plowed parking area at the North Gate.


Winter visitors can expect a space of quiet solitude and beauty in the glistening Maine's North Woods. Visitors can experience the monument by cross country skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles. Hiking with additional winter traction (microspikes, ice cleats, trail crampons) on waterproof hiking boots is recommended for icy conditions. For updated hours and weather, please visit the current conditions page, or call 207-456-6001. No ranger-led hikes nor talks are currently scheduled in winter.

Remember, even small problems can become deadly when compounded by low temperatures or rapidly changing conditions. There is no potable water in the monument. Insulated bottles are recommended so liquids do not freeze. Read more information on winter safety and minimizing risks. Keep these important winter safety tips in mind to prepare for a fun and safe winter trip.


Tips for a Safe Winter Visit

  • Before you leave home, let someone know where you are going, how long you plan to be out, a description of your vehicle, where it will be parked, and when you plan to return. Write It Down! 
  • Take plenty of liquids and snacks or food along with you. Pack extra in case an emergency should happen.
  • Take repair supplies for your method of travel (skis, snowshoes, or snowmobile), and camping equipment. 
  • Bring a map! Don’t expect your cell phone to work since there is limited reception within the monument. Electronics and batteries drain faster in the cold, prepare accordingly!
  • Know the local weather forecast and watch the weather.
  • Dress in layer, cover up extremities. Wear waterproof clothing.
  • Realize that the park ranger staff is reduced in winter and response times are extended due to winter conditions.


No potable water is available, so all drinking water should be brought in or properly treated before drinking. Bringing an insulated container is a good way to keep liquids from freezing.

Melting Snow for Water

  • Bring a camp stove/pot and fuel to melt snow for water.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel! Cold conditions can affect the tank by lowering the volume and pressure.
  • Start with melting and boiling a small amount of snow before adding more snow. This will melt the snow faster than starting with a pot full of snow.
  • Water expands when it freezes, so be prepared to boil a lot of snow.
  • Boil the water from the melted snow for at least 1 minute before drinking. Please refer to CDC guidance for treatment and sanitation of drinking water.

Lowered body temperatures affects a person's dexterity, judgement, and vision. Dress appropriately in layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.

Symptoms to Watch For

An ever present danger in cold climates is hypothermia, a condition created when you lose body heat faster than you create it. Early symptoms of hypothermia include slurred speech, trembling, exhaustion, stumbling, and impaired judgment. Unchecked, symptoms may progress to mental confusion, unconsciousness, and eventually death. Hypothermia can result from cold ambient temperatures between 30 and 60 degrees F, especially when accompanied by wind or rain. Should you get wet, you must be aware that hypothermia will likely follow.

Take Preventative Action

Put on rainwear or warm clothes before you become soaked or cold. Ventilate or remove clothing layers before you sweat. Wrap sleeping bags and clothing in plastic bags. Eat high calorie food throughout the day before you become exhausted. Keep hydrated. Make sure all members of your party are aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and look out for each other. Be aware that wind chill can reduce the apparent temperature significantly, and driving a snowmobile fast creates your own windchill. Slow down!

What to Do When Experiencing Hypothermia

The objective of hypothermia treatment is to rewarm as fast as possible. Begin by finding a spot out of the wind, removing wet clothing, and adding dry layers. Then, feed and heat.

First provide the body with quick calories that will enable it to produce heat (FEED). Simple foods such as candy bars and hot chocolate will be absorbed the fastest. Follow up with food containing more complex carbohydrates such as bread and fruit.

HEAT means rewarm quickly by exercising and moving. Walk about or practice isometric exercises inside the tent or shelter. Body movement and exercise will usually affect rewarming considerably more than remaining still under piles of sleeping bags. Avoid alcohol as it increases heat loss. If a hypothermic patient ceases shivering, exhibits a dramatic decrease in mental status such as hallucinations and unconsciousness, and their core body temperature is below 90 degrees, the patient has severe hypothermia. Field rewarming of severely hypothermic patients can be dangerous, and is usually not effective. Transport the patient to the nearest medical facility.

Before You Arrive

  • Check the conditions:  Check the current conditions page, local weather forecast, and park alerts. Visit NewEngland511 to check road conditions and closures outside the park. 
  • Assess your vehicle and winter driving skills: Check your brakes, heater/defroster, lights, and wipers. Ask yourself if you and your vehicle are equipped to drive on roads that are covered in packed snow and ice.
  • Install traction tires or carry chains : Traction tires are snow tires or studded tires that meet the tire industry's standard for being suitable in severe snow conditions. They are marked with a mountain/snowflake emblem on the sidewall. Chains should be in good working order and should fit your tires correctly. Practice putting them on BEFORE you actually need them.
  • Fill up on fuel: Don't let your vehicle fall below half a tank on winter trips. Gasoline is not available in or nearby the monument if empty.
  • Pack a basic winter survival kit: Include an ice scraper, flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, warm coat, hat, gloves, boots, and first-aid kit.

At the monument

  • Slow your speed: Drive for the conditions. The posted speed limit is not always a safe speed to drive. When you see a plow coming toward you, gently decelerate and give it plenty of room to get by.
  • Keep alert: Be mentally prepared to meet other vehicles as you drive around each corner.
  • Give 'em space: When following a vehicle or plow, do not follow closely. The standard "two-second" rule for following a vehicle applies only on dry roads. In winter conditions, you will need much more braking time and distance if the other vehicle makes a sudden stop.
  • Stay in your lane: Never drive in the wrong lane, even if it has been plowed and your lane has not.
  • Make your presence known: Don’t assume that other vehicles can see you. They may have limited visibility due to falling snow, ice- or fog-covered windows, and blind corners. When driving near a plow, turn on your headlights and even your emergency lights to make yourself more noticeable.
  • Wait to pass: Do not pass a plow unless the driver waves you ahead or you are absolutely sure that you can pass safely.

Last updated: December 18, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 446
Patten, ME 04765



Contact Us