Colorado State Parks Close Playgrounds and Campsites, National Parks Discourage Trail Use

[Update March 8 at 2:27 p.m.: Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced on May 5 campgrounds will remain closed until further notice. But in a press conference on March 8, Governor Jared Polis said he is optimistic that Parks and Wildlife will be able to open campsites by “soon,” presumably by Memorial Day.] 

On March 26, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) closed all playgrounds, campgrounds and camping facilities — including yurts and cabins — at Colorado’s state parks until further notice. Camping at State Wildlife Areas is also prohibited as long as this closure is in effect.

In addition, the U.S. Forest Service closed campgrounds, restrooms, trailheads, cabin rentals and fire spots, picnic sites and trash cans at national parks in Colorado. Fishing, hunting and trail use within these national parks are temporarily discouraged.

The Forest Service and CPW based their decisions on Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ recent stay-at-home order and advice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to the Forest Service, another reason for these new limitations and discouragements is that “law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 response.”

Still, it is true that participating in public recreation at a legally-mandated distance of six feet or more from other parties is considered an essential activity and is exempt from the governor’s order. For that reason, state parks are working hard to remain open so the public can experience the vital joy of being outside. Patrons of state parks are urged to exercise responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak.

All outdoor areas in state parks that are not playgrounds or campgrounds — including parks, trails, boat ramps, marinas and shorelines — remain open. CPW visitor centers, service centers and offices are still in operation but currently have restricted access to the public.

Meanwhile, entrance kiosks and visitor centers at all national parks in Colorado are closed until further notice. The U.S. Forest Service also encourages visitors to keep groups to smaller than 10 people.

To read the Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s official statement, go here. For more information on the U.S. Forest Service’s update, go here.