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Eldorado Canyon State Park proposes weekend reservation system

The popular state park in Boulder County reaches vehicle capacity consistently on weekends and holidays April through October.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Eldorado Canyon State Park experiences congestion and traffic issues almost every weekend between April and October, and park staff have a plan on what do to about it.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission heard the state park's proposal last week to implement a timed entry reservation system, similar to systems used at other popular outdoor destinations like Rocky Mountain National Park.

If the proposal receives approval at the CPW Commission's next meeting on May 4 and 5, a pilot program could begin as early as August. For 2023, reservations would be required May 15 through Sept. 15.

> Video above from February: Colorado group makes mountain trails more accessible.

Under the proposal, reservations would be required for vehicle access on weekends and holidays. Visitors without a reservation would still be able to take a free shuttle into the park as long as they had a Colorado State Parks pass, CPW said.

Eldorado Canyon State Park has seen a 118% increase in visitation since 2013, with almost 540,000 visitors last year.

“Our hope is the reservation system will reduce impacts to the community of Eldorado Springs, protect natural resources and maintain a safe, quality recreational experience for years to come,” said Park Manager John Carson. “The proposed system will help visitors plan for their visit while managing their expectations of entry into the park.” 

Reservations would be through CPWshop.com and free of charge. A valid Colorado state parks pass would be required to enter.

The proposal includes:

  • A reservation would be required for vehicles from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and state holidays May 15 through Sept. 15.
  • There would be 75% to 80% maximum capacity for reservations issued.
  • 20% of reservations would be available to purchase the day prior at 3 p.m. at CPWshop.com.
  • Reservations would be released in two-hour entry windows.
  • A maximum of four reservations could be purchased per person in a 30-day period.
  • Visitors could enter the park without a reservation via shuttle bus or on bicycle. A valid Colorado state parks pass would be required for those 16 and older.
Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Eldorado Canyon State Park

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