Year’s end often leads us to reflect on the past and plan for the future. As Coloradans, we make outdoor recreation an important and valuable part of our busy lives. So we may find ourselves reflecting on the reward and reinvigoration of hunting seasons spent in the mountains and out on the plains; hikes to the tops of 14ers and relaxing walks in Colorado’s open spaces; or quiet mornings spent by a favorite fishing hole.
Live Life Outside!
Time spent outside is important for both adults and children. According to GOCO’s Generation Wild, on average, kids today only spend 4 to7 minutes each day in unstructured play. And while research has shown that children who play outside are more creative, less aggressive, and less stressed, spare time is simply not something easily found in our increasingly busy schedules. Buoyed by science, research studies have shown that exposure to nature and the outdoors produces a reduction in stress levels, improves well-being, and increases social connectedness. So, with the new year just days away, there’s a fun and easy way to make a commitment to the outdoors part of your 2019 resolutions.
Join Colorado Parks and Wildlife for a guided First Day Hike. First Day Hikes was created to offer everyone an opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors at a state park close to home. In 2018, nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year with First Day Hikes, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Many others hiked state park trails throughout the day, taking advantage of the resources America’s state parks have to offer. With more than 30 events scheduled in state parks across Colorado, there are some great opportunities to find a hike that is just right for you.
“Since 2012, state parks in Colorado and across the nation have offered hikes on January 1st to encourage individuals and families to begin the New Year with a rejuvenating and healthy hike at their local state park,” says Crystal Dreiling, Trinidad Lake State Park Manager. “Led by park staff or volunteers, First Day Hikes encourage outdoor exploration and enjoyment as a healthy lifestyle choice, while at the same time remind the public that outdoor recreation can be enjoyed year-round!”
With a variety of hikes in ability level and length, First Day Hikes are the perfect activity to begin your year on the right foot. Hikers can expect to enjoy winter landscapes with striking views, and in many parks, benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide. Hikes will range from fun walks to more challenging hikes for those feeling up to the challenge. Many parks will be providing light refreshments to warm up after your winter adventure. All hikes are free of charge, but visitors must possess a valid annual or daily parks pass to participate.
This year, begin the New Year by creating a connection to nature – whether attending a First Day Hike or simply heading out your front door and roaming your local neighborhood. It’s winter in Colorado, so remember to check the weather forecast before heading out. There’s a good chance that you’ll need to dress with lots of layers. And be sure to bring water and snacks for the journey! If you’re new to winter hiking, visit REI’s website for some great tips on clothing and gear for cold-weather hiking.