Grand County's Skilled + Dedicated Volunteer Mountain Rescue Team Provides Year-Round Emergency Backcountry Services to Residents and Visitors

There's no question that recreating the mountains of Grand County is why so many call this place home! The opportunities for outdoor adventure are endless. Mountain biking, hiking, rafting, boating, and fishing fill the warmer months while we get to ski, snowboard, snowmobile, and more when the snow starts to fly. High-mountain adventure is literally out our back doors. Truly - does life get any better?! 

And we all know that spending a day on the water, in the woods, or on a mountain-top don't come without risk. Even when we recreate as responsibly as possible, factors outside of our control can leave us lost or injured. That's when Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) quite literally comes to the rescue. With a team of almost fifty local volunteers, GCSAR is on call twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. 


The team typically responds to about 60 backcountry emergencies each year. In 2022, their 67 missions saved 13 lives, assisted 51, and recovered two. They've been on the scene to find and save skiers, snowmobilers, hikers, hunters, snowshoers, climbers, rafters, fishermen, mountain bikers and lost children. When residents and visitors of Grand County are in need of mountain search and rescue services, we can rest easier knowing that GSCAR's highly-trained team is on call and ready!

Volunteers spend, combined, over four thousand hours training each year to prepare for their missions. Their training prepares them to drop into hard-to-access terrain via helicopter, belay, climb, hike, and utilize canine support (including Ski Patrol Avalanche Dogs) to access and find those stranded in the wilderness. Taking time out of their regular lives and jobs to give back to the community in such a selfless way is just a testament to the people who choose to reside in Grand County - they are truly the heart of what makes Grand County so "grand."


Grand County Search and Rescue is also committed to educating the community around backcountry safety. They advocate for backcountry preparedness, sharing their "Ten Essentials" list and systems to educate the public and prevent the need for a backcountry rescue. Their “Hug a Tree” approach teaches local kids the principles of what to do if they get lost in the wilderness and how to stay safe until GCSAR gets to them. They recently met with Grand County 5th graders to share the principles of "Hug a Tree":
  • Stay put or "Hug a Tree."
  • Blow your whistle so SAR can hear you.
  • Make yourself big!

Whether you're in 5th grade or 50, the principles hold true and help optimize GCSAR success. So when you head out on your next backcountry adventure, stick to the "Ten Essentials" and utilize the "Hug a Tree" steps if needed! 

become a member

Interested in joining the Grand County Search and Rescue team? All you need is a passion for the outdoors and helping others in need! No backcountry rescue experience is necessary; members take part in a year-round training regimen. All new members star the journey attending a multi-day Search and Rescue Academy followed by an overnight group bivouac in late May that serves as a skills test for new members to demonstrate what they learned at the Academy. The next Academy will be hosted in the spring of 2025, but there are plenty of administrative needs in the interim!


Since Grand County Search and Rescue operates solely on grant funding and donations, they welcome all financial support! Donate or sign up for the annual SAR for the Course golf tournament if you'd like to give and support the efforts of GCSAR. No one on the team is paid - the funds raised and donated are used to acquire and maintain rescue + command center vehicles, snowmobiles, and ATVs as well as to repair and replace team gear (such as litters, ropes, climbing hardware, medical equipment, and radios) and operational expenses.

Our team at West and Main proudly supports Grand County Search and Rescue. Not only that, but a portion of every W + M Grand County closing goes to a local nonprofit. We'd love to connect with you and help you put down roots in a community with such incredible nonprofit support! 

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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