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Colorado campgrounds closed, trails still open after stay-at-home order issued due to COVID-19

Colorado State Parks is closing its campgrounds, but keeping trails and boat ramps open following Governor Jared Polis' statewide stay-at-home order.

DENVER — Following a statewide stay-at-home order from Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Colorado State Parks announced Thursday it will close all of its campgrounds – something that national forests are doing too as a means to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While Colorado’s state parks will remain open, playgrounds, campgrounds, camping and camping facilities will be shut down until further notice. Campers already at the sites will be told to vacate immediately, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

Despite these changes, other parts of the parks – including trails, boat ramps, marinas and shorelines – will remain open, but could close if they don’t allow for proper social distancing.

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“CPW encourages people to take local and state stay-at-home orders seriously, and limit travel time whenever possible, even for approved recreation,” the release from CPW reads.

While the state stay-at-home order does not prohibit outdoor recreation, the city of Denver’s does bar non-essential travel.

Other outdoor agencies have also issued new guidelines in an effort to enforce social distancing requirements.

Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests – as well as Pawnee National Grassland – said it has closed certain developed recreation sites and campgrounds through at least April 30.

This includes the closure of trailhead restrooms.

Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office said they will work to limit what was described as a dangerous parking situation on Loveland Pass, where hundreds of backcountry skiers were seen parking over the weekend – despite guidelines that people should avoid large groups.

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Parking enforcement will also take place on Berthoud Pass, another popular area for backcountry skiing, according to a news release from CSP.

“Each contact we need to make with someone who has parked illegally raises the risk of exposure to everyone involved,” said CSP Master Sergeant Don Enloe in a news release. “Nobody wants to take this home or injure someone else as a result of being in a place they didn’t need to be at in the first place.”

Closer to Denver, Jeffco Open Space said it will keep trails open, albeit with more restrictions. 

People are told to not gather in groups larger than four, and separate themselves by at least 6 feet from others on the trails.

Bathrooms will stay open, but park users are asked to “use discretion.”

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