Colorado State Parks remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak, as park rangers and community members adapt to social distancing practices.
Jason Hagan, the senior ranger at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, said he's seen an increase in weekday visitors in the past few weeks. While he said he doesn't have specific numbers, more guests visited the park than is normal for March.
"[There are] a lot more people out on the trails, a lot of people that have never been here before are coming out," he said. "People are obviously utilizing the state park more than they typically would."
Hagan said the parks are an essential community resource when many places across the state have closed.
"Mentally, physically, emotionally, the outdoors is kind of an escape for people," said Hagan. "For us to be able to provide that is hugely important."
Hagan said he and staff have been balancing enforcing park rules while practicing social distancing. He said many new visitors don't know policies around dogs on trails or the need for passes to visit Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
As COVID-19 continues, Hagan said the park will take its cues from Colorado Parks and Wildlife on closures and future safety measures.
Organizations like the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) are advocating for people to use trails to manage their mental and physical health during the state's stay-at-home order.
The advocacy group has launched an initiative called "Get Out, Spread Out," which encourages people to visit parks and trails around the Pikes Peak region. The organization made a list and interactive map of around 33 spaces for people to visit that are "off the beaten trail."
Susan Davies is the executive director of TOSC. She said this list is just the start of helping people find places throughout the city to get outside.
Davies said in the Pikes Peak region it's easy enough to follow social distancing guidelines and get outside.
"We have [over] 150 parks and trails and open spaces, so we have so many choices," said Davies. "There's just no excuse for everyone to end up at the same two, three, five, ten parks."
Davies said because park staff may be restricted, "it's up to us, " and people visiting parks must "step up their game," clean up after themselves and maintain social distancing practices so parks are not forced to close.
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