More state parks will require visitors without a vehicle to pay a fee for entry, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday.
Individual hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders must now pay $4 to enter 36 state parks. That includes the Golden Gate Canyon, Roxborough, Staunton and Saint Vrain state parks.
"Just because you're biking or hiking in doesn't mean you're not using the facilities or not having an impact on that park,” CPW spokesman Travis Duncan said.
“So getting everyone who's recreating on state parks to make sure they're covering their costs is huge for us to make sure going forward that we have the funds we need to maintain those areas."
Duncan added that the need is even greater with the increase in visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic and how it’s limited other activities in Colorado and beyond.
The handful of state parks that still don’t charge the daily non-vehicle fee include Cherry Creek State Park in Arapahoe County, which sees many bicyclists who use the trails to commute. But those parks will need to implement the $4 fee at some point, although Duncan said there’s still no timeline.
“We haven’t done some of the larger, urban parks yet, like Chatfield,” he said. “Because of the huge number of users, the commuter bike trails, surrounding residences — there’s just a number of factors there that make some of these parks more complicated.”
The change comes from SB18-143, a state law signed in 2018 known as the Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act. On top of fee increases for hunting and fishing licenses, it also opened the door for state parks to increase fee revenue.
In 2019, Colorado Parks and Wildlife started requiring the $4 individual day pass at 16 places. Before that, four parks already had them in place. This month brought 16 more.
The variety of annual state parks passes does not include one for non-vehicle entries. But visitors who have an annual pass can show that pass or their receipt to enter by bike or on foot for free, Duncan said.
“Our commission is currently looking at options for implementing a digital pass, something that you could pull up on your phone,” he added.
The daily fee for vehicles to enter state parks ranges from $9-11.