Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging everyone to plan ahead and practice safety as it anticipates full parks and campgrounds, heavy traffic on hiking trails and crowded boat ramps and swim beaches over Labor Day weekend.
Know Before You Go
Colorado outdoor spaces continue to see explosive growth in attendance. On a holiday weekend, expect lines and potential gate closures if parking lots are full. Peak times at parks are generally 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. To help prepare for a more comfortable outdoor experience, check weather conditions for where you plan to visit and bring extra water and layers in case the weather fluctuates.
- Camping reservations are required at Colorado State Parks.
- Use the CPW Park Finder to learn about what activities are available at each state park and visit a park’s individual web page to learn about any possible park or trail closures.
- Have a backup plan. With the recent wildfires and mudslides, some roads and trails may be closed for safety reasons. Tools such as the Colorado Trail Explorer app (COTREX) provide additional outdoor opportunities in the surrounding areas if your desired trailhead, park or location is crowded or closed.
Life Vests Save Lives, Practice Boating Safety
With an increased interest in water-based recreation activities, it is essential that people follow boating safety best practices to be safe on the water.
- Check your equipment and the weather and water conditions. Strong wind gusts can knock a paddleboarder or kayaker into the water, but it’s important to be aware of the cold water temperatures that exist year-round in Colorado.
- Wear the proper life vest, all water recreationists should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when recreating on the water. Hypothermia can occur quickly in Colorado.
- Boating Under the Influence is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents. Penalties for boating under the influence include receiving fines, having your boat impounded, potential jail time and loss of boating privileges.
- Boat inspections are required before launching in Colorado waters to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species. Avoid potential lines and get your boat inspected this week.
Keep Wildlife Wild
To keep wildlife — and you — safe, don’t feed or approach wildlife. Help protect our wildlife by keeping a safe distance from bears, moose and deer. It is all of our responsibility to help minimize conflicts with wildlife by being mindful of how our behavior can trigger wildlife to become aggressive.
- Black bears in Colorado are entering hyperphagia and will spend up to 20 hours a day trying to eat more than 20,000 calories to fatten up for winter. As bears start to prepare for hibernation and hunt for food, Coloradans may see more bear activity in urban areas.
- Do not feed or approach young wildlife no matter how hungry you think they might look.
- Be bear aware on trails and bear-proof your campsite to avoid encounters with bears.
- Moose will charge if you get too close and they feel threatened. Keep a safe distance and enjoy moose from afar.
- Keep dogs leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out waste all the way to a trash can.
Be Careful with Fire
Know the park fire restrictions or closures before you go. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
- Dry conditions frequently impact what type of fires are allowed, and they may be completely restricted in some areas. The website www.coemergency.com provides up-to-date information on county fire restrictions and bans.
- When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended or put hot coals in a dumpster.
- It is also important to help prevent invasive critters from hitchhiking along on your trip or across state lines by purchasing locally sourced firewood.
Nature belongs to all of us, and the need for conservation never takes a holiday. Together, we can live life outside and all do our part to care for Colorado and keep our landscapes colorful and clean.
Written by Bridget Kochel. Bridget is a public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.