Winter Survival

Many people are unaware of the hazards of winter travel. Harsh conditions of wind, cold, snow, or whiteout can turn an outing into a tragedy. Knowledge of the area, weather, route, and the limitations of your body and equipment, plus a little common sense, can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Winter road conditions

You will encounter a wide range of road conditions during the winter months, including dry pavement, black ice, hard packed snow, ice, loose snow, slush, and every combination. Roads to winter destinations may be plowed periodically, however, road conditions may often be very difficult even after plowing.

Know your vehicle

High-clearance vehicles with 4-wheel drive and good mud/snow tires are best. Other vehicles, especially RV’s, maybe find the going very difficult at times.

Drive carefully

Be especially careful going downhill when conditions are snow-packed and icy! Towing adds to the difficulty. Check the road report on the Montana DOT Website or call 511.

Driving conditions

Know the conditions before you go out. Find the latest weather, road reports, and Web cams on the Montana State Website .

Current weather alerts

For current weather alerts in Montana, visit the NOAA National Weather Service Website .


Layers of clothing that can be adjusted to prevailing conditions are best. Take extra socks, gloves or mittens, and a warm cap. See Dress for the Outdoors for more information about clothing.

DOT Survival Guides

The Montana DOT has published two resources to help Montanans survive in extreme unexpected weather conditions. These references are stocked with valuable information that could save your life.

Montana Disaster & Emergency Survival Guide

The Montana Disaster & Emergency Survival Guide (Montana Disaster & Emergency Survival Guide 427 KB) covers many helpful topics, including, but not limited to:

  • The road, winter driving, and works zones,
  • your vehicle, keeping it maintained, starting it in the cold, and using it as a shelter,
  • a survival kit,
  • emergency shelters, and
  • the outdoors, how to survive getting stranded in severe weather, avalanches, and safety in the backcountry.
Montana’s Take-along Winter Survival Handbook

Montana’s Take-along Winter Survival Handbook (Montana's Take-along Winter Survival Handbook 412 KB) covers many helpful topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Driving and car tips,
  • survival for outdoor activities,
  • winter safety tip,
  • cold weather tips, and
  • protection for pets and livestock.