Castlewood Canyon State Park: Gold Standard Site

Castlewood Canyon becomes second Colorado state park to receive the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics' Gold Standard Site designation.
  • Castlewood Canyon State Park Hikers
  • Castlewood Canyon State Park
  • Hiking trail
  • rock climber
  • wildflowers
  • canyon overlook
  • climber
  • Hikers

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has distinguished Castlewood Canyon State Park as its newest Gold Standard Site, becoming just the 12th park of any kind (national, state or local) in the United States to receive the prestigious designation.

LNT Gold Standard

Gold Standard Site designations are awarded to public recreation lands that exemplify successful ‘Leave No Trace’ ethics and showcase strong organizational commitment to the promotion of outdoor skills, ethics, and stewardship in order to help preserve and protect the natural landscape for generations to come.

Castlewood Canyon State Park joins Roxborough State Park as the only sites in Colorado holding the designation, and Colorado joins Washington as the only states boasting two Gold Standard sites. Washington’s Olympic National Park and San Juan Islands National Monument both hold the distinction.

Obtaining the designation was made possible thanks to a collaborative effort between volunteer groups at both Castlewood Canyon and Roxborough.

“A huge thanks for this to volunteers Bev Finamore, Mike Thomas, the Friends of Castlewood Canyon and volunteers at Roxborough for making this happen,” said Castlewood Canyon Park Manager Brent Lounsbury.

In notifying the Castlewood Canyon of the Gold Standard designation, Mitch Warnick, Program Manager for Leave No Trace in Every Park stated, “The work that you all have done in the past couple of years to elevate Leave No Trace implementation across Colorado’s state parks and beyond is truly spectacular and the tangible evidence supports that.”

Trash Garden
The “Trash Garden” at Roxborough State Park.

The partnership between the Friends of Roxborough State Park and Friends of Castlewood Canyon State Park, volunteer groups for each park, was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Colorado Partners in the Outdoors to further implement Leave No Trace ethos.

“This grant made it possible for our team to assist Castlewood Canyon achieve Leave No Trace Gold status by using the materials and programs developed by Roxborough State Park, which was the first Gold Standard Site in Colorado,” said Mike Thomas, volunteer with Roxborough State Park. “This partnership allowed us to ground-truth the Roxborough materials and programs, which led us to believe that these could then be used at all Colorado State Parks. The grant also allowed us to build both virtual and physical tool kits to assist other Colorado state parks to implement Leave No Trace, and also perhaps achieve Gold Standard status. The tool kits developed from these materials make it easier for all recreation areas to implement Leave No Trace, especially for parks with tight budgets and where volunteers are difficult to assemble.”

Now, other Colorado state parks are pushing forward hoping to achieve the Gold Standard designation. Eleven Mile, Barr Lake and Staunton State Parks are both working on obtaining theirs by using these tool kits.

“With our parks trying to cope with the large increase in visitors, and trying to ensure the impacts from these visitors do not destroy the missions of the parks, the tool kits provide easy, yet effective educational programs to help our visitors understand the importance of minimizing impacts and how to do it,” Thomas said. “The tool kits and the Leave No Trace programming integrate perfectly with the Colorado Outdoor Principles and will help protect our outdoor spaces for future generations.”

The tool kits consist of the virtual tool kit available on the Leave No Trace website in addition to the physical tool kit containing materials, activities, equipment, documents, templates and other items to help educate the public on the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. All of that is contained in one plastic bin that can be easily transported from place to place.

“It’s a one-stop shop of Leave No Trace materials,” Thomas said. 

Over the spring, 11 additional state parks along with CPW’s main office building in Denver, will receive a physical tool kit. The state parks include Roxborough, Castlewood Canyon, Barr Lake, Golden Gate Canyon, Chatfield, Staunton, Eleven Mile, Jackson Lake, Rifle Complex, Cheyenne Mountain and Mueller.

Both Castlewood Canyon State Park and Roxborough State Park acknowledge that moving forward, the challenge will be to continue delivering the Leave No Trace message to the ever-increasing number of visitors to the respective parks and to also continue to expand the message to even more Colorado state parks. 

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Written by Jason Clay. Clay is a public information officer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife northeast region.

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