Check Out State Parks Program Offers Outdoor Experiential Learning Opportunities

Library patrons can check out the backpack and park pass for up to seven days and use it to visit any Colorado state park for free.
family with takes advantage of the library backpack.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking outdoor enthusiasts to recreate responsibly.

Colorado’s natural resources have served as an important source of solace for so many people during the pandemic, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Library want all Coloradans to experience everything the great outdoors has to offer.

The Check Out State Parks program is a collaboration between state agencies that can help Coloradans visit state parks at no cost and experience everything the great outdoors has to offer through hands-on learning.

“We want to give all Coloradans the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature,” said Debbie Lininger, marketing specialist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The Check Out State Parks program offers interactive backpacks that help you navigate all of our state parks. With so many outdoor spaces to explore and different types of recreation activities to enjoy, we included educational materials in each nature backpack to help you plan your next adventure and put nature theory into real-world practice.” 

Nearly 300 Colorado libraries are participating in the Check Out State Parks program, including all public libraries, three military base libraries and publically funded academic libraries.

Backpacks Loaded with Learning Materials

Library backpack
Library patrons can check out the backpack and park pass for up to seven days and use it to visit any Colorado state park

Participating libraries offer one or two backpacks available for check out. Each backpack contains the following:

  • Annual Colorado State Park Pass for free park entry (hang tag)
  • Educational materials: Fishing Basics Instruction Sheet, Colorado Trees and Wildflower Guide, Colorado Wildlife Guide, Colorado Birds Guide, and Night Sky Guide.
  • Your Guide to Colorado’s State Parks
  • An activity ideas list
  • Binoculars
  • Leave No Trace – Outdoor Ethics Card

“More than 2.8 million Coloradans have a public library card,” said Nicolle Davies, assistant commissioner of education at the Colorado Department of Education. “To reduce the community spread of COVID-19, we laminated each educational item in the backpacks for easy, effective cleaning between uses. The Check Out State Parks program is a very popular program among our Colorado community and we want people to still be able to take advantage of this program and learn about nature while feeling safe in the process.” 

Library patrons can check out the backpack and park pass for up to seven days and use it to visit any Colorado state park

Please Recreate Responsibly

Recreate responsibly and have fun!

Responsible recreation includes respecting seasonal trail closures, not walking on or damaging vegetation, disposing of trash and waste, properly distinguishing campfires, not touching or feeding wildlife, and following trail etiquette to respect others.   

Learn more about the Care for Colorado- Leave No Trace principles and how to preserve Colorado for generations to come. Check with your local library about the availability of the backpack for check out.

One Response

  1. I totally agree with your efforts to get people to recreate responsibly. My comment regards the irresponsible management of some of our wildlife areas by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The Deweese Wildlife Area in Westcliffe, has been degraded by herds of grazing cattle for many years. Even though the State Wildlife Area access rules prohibits “livestock grazing” in wildlife areas, CPW managers continue to allow it. Consequently, the stream banks of Grape creek are collapsing, eroding, and the waterways are contaminated with fecal matter and sediment. For years, tons of manure and sediment have been contaminating the waters and now the lake is experiencing a toxic blue-green algae bloom, which is a serious health threat to humans, pets and wildlife. Many complaints have been filed with CPW management and as of Sept. 18, the cattle are grazing freely in and around the lake area. Considering the toxic condition of the waterways, you would expect CPW would make every effort to prevent additional contamination by removing a major source of the contamination. The goals of CPW are to CONSERVE, PROTECT, and IMPROVE our wildlife areas. CPW needs to follow their own advice to “ACT RESPONSIBLY and LEAVE NO TRACE”

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