DENVER – At a COVID-19 response update at the state capitol today, Colorado Governor Jared Polis indicated Colorado Parks and Wildlife will begin working to reopen campgrounds at its state parks, phasing in available sites by park in coordination with counties.
“Today, I am proud to announce that Colorado State Parks and State Wildlife Areas will be open to camping starting May 12. I am proud of Colorado Parks and Wildlife for keeping our state parks open during this entire period to help Coloradans be safe outdoors. We know Coloradans have been anxious to get back to extended stays in our beautiful state parks, but it’s important to be able to open camping safely,” said Gov. Jared Polis.
“Working with CDPHE and our counties, and taking into account the applicable local public health orders, we can now begin implementing reopening plans for camping and taking reservations at our state parks. We ask that campers be very mindful that camping today may look very different from what you might be used to, but we are excited for people to be able to begin planning their next camping trip in Colorado.”
Per the Governor’s guidance, CPW will begin working immediately with counties that are open and willing to receive visitors. CPW campgrounds will be opening to camping at many state parks beginning Tuesday, May 12. This will be a phased approach to reopening campgrounds with county coordination, some parks may have limited opportunity and others may remain closed for a few more days based on local needs. Agency staff is finalizing reopening plans, and asks visitors to state parks to remain flexible in their travel plans as we work with counties and local public health orders to open safely and cooperatively.
Coloradans hoping to camp must do so by reservation. Visit cpwshop.com to make your camping reservation and be sure to check for the latest updates and campground openings on CPW’s COVID-19 Information page.
Important points about the reopening process
The reopening process will be in coordination with local counties and will take into account any local restrictions that are in place. CPW staff will also maintain communication with local officials following reopening.
Campers will need to make sure they respect local community restrictions: http://counties.coloradogeodev.com/safer.html.
The reopening of camping will closely abide by all Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Centers for Disease Control social distancing guidance and recommendations.
Campers should also follow best practices for recreational travel, including bringing your meals with you, filling up on gas prior to leaving home, bringing cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items and remembering to wear masks when out in public. See below for additional best practices for those planning recreational travel.
Best Practices If You Are Planning Recreational Travel
CDPHE recommends that you stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with others, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. If you are camping in your local region, here are several things you should consider before you go.
Plan as if you are going to the moon:
You MUST have a reservation. No exceptions.
PLAN AHEAD. Actively practice the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, which includes Planning Ahead and Preparing. The goal is to eliminate the need for stops to and from your camping adventure.
Top off your tank. Fill up your gas tank in your neighborhood before you leave to avoid stopping both to and from your camping destination.
Plan your meals ahead of time. Use a cooler and shop at your local grocery store near where you live before you go. Make sure you have all the equipment necessary to cook, consume, and dispose of waste from your meals.
Safety first. Bring a first aid kit and put it under the seat of your car (or refresh the first aid kit that you already have).
Be prepared for Number 2. If you plan to camp in a dispersed area, bring your own portable toilet or other equipment to dispose of human waste properly (public facilities may be closed). Failure to properly dispose of waste, especially in areas with high visitation, damages the environment and impacts other visitors.
Pack out your trash. With limited staff and services likely in many parks and protected areas, trash and recycling receptacles may not be emptied as often as normal. This can result in trash overflowing from receptacles which becomes litter and can harm wildlife. Instead, pack your trash and recyclables out with you all the way home and utilize your own receptacles.
This trip will not be the same as your last trip:
Respect local restrictions. Look into local restrictions and avoid counties and localities with limitations on recreational activities or travel: http://counties.coloradogeodev.com/safer.html
Prepare for reduced services. While camping may be allowed, there is a chance that restrooms, trash receptacles, and other facilities may be closed or have limited service. Bring your own supplies like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and trash bags as a back-up.
Be mindful with campfires. Use only developed, approved fire pits when camping. Respect the counties and public land managers that have placed restrictions on campfires – notices will be posted when closures are in place. When camping or recreating, please consider the impact that a wildfire would have on our first responders. Never leave a fire unattended and fully extinguish all coals before leaving.
Don’t engage in high-risk activities. Know your limits and plan your trip ahead of time to avoid getting lost or hurt. Many search and rescue volunteers are involved in other public health activities in their communities. Please don’t distract them from this important work and put them at risk.
Keep it below 10. Camp and recreate with members of your household and keep your overall numbers below 10 individuals.
Make new friends another time. Don’t invite visitors to your campsites, even for a few minutes. Gatherings of larger than 10 individuals will be asked to leave and may result in loss of your camping privileges.
Protect yourself and others during your trip:
Feeling sick? Stay home. Don’t go if you or anyone in your household feels sick or are having any COVID-19 related symptoms. If you or anyone in your party starts to feel sick while you are camping, go home.
Wash your hands. If you use a public restroom, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Bring hand sanitizer. Bring hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and use it often. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
Give some space. Keep 6 feet of physical distance from others not in your household group. Do not congregate near bathrooms or water sources.
Wear a face covering. If you must stop at a gas station or store, wear a cloth face covering at all times.
Don’t be caught off guard. Bring a cloth face covering every time you leave your campsite, and wear it when there’s a chance that you may encounter others, such as out on the trail or in the woods.
No touching. Without thinking about it, we touch our own face A LOT. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent potential spread of the virus.
Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
Keep a clean campsite. Place trash in plastic trash bags and properly dispose of your trash in available trash containers. If trash service isn’t provided at your campsite, bring it home with you.
Keep pets in your immediate control. Dogs must remain leashed at all times and maintain at least 6 feet from other people and animals. Avoid contact with other campers’ pets.
Have patience and be kind to others. Remember, we’re all in this together and tensions are high. Keep your distance, be courteous, and perhaps send a wave to your neighbors when you pass their campsite, and have fun!