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Colorado state parks are open, but you should still social distance

Some state parks are seeing crowds that typically don't come until summer.

COLORADO, USA — Getting outdoors is good for the body and mind, especially when all you can think about is COVID-19, but social distancing rules should still apply.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is keeping state parks open, but encouraging visitors to follow the recommendations from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Maintain your social distance if you’re out at one of our parks," said CPW spokesperson Jason Clay. "We recommend activities that can be done alone or with small families.”

> The video above shows the peace and beauty of a snowy Denver day last week.

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On Monday, Chatfield State Park was busy with bikers, runners and a few fishermen on boats, like Duane Akiyama. 

"It’s nice and quiet. It’s peaceful. Nobody to argue with," Akiyama joked.

The solitude of the water welcomes Akiyama just about every Monday. He usually goes out alone, which makes it easy to follow the CDC's recommendations for social distancing.

“Well, you don’t really have any choice when you’re out in the water," he said. "It’s kind of hard to get 6 feet between each other."

The open water is an easy way to avoid the crowds CPW is seeing across its 41 state parks.

"Last week, we saw an increase in visitation at some parks up to the levels that they see in the summer months," Jason Clay said.

In a release sent Monday afternoon, CPW said its goal was to minimize the effects of COVID-19 on recreation in Colorado. 

"Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff remain dedicated to our mission to provide a quality state park system and enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities for our communities, even during this time of uncertainty,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow.  

CPW asked visitors to consider the following when visiting any Colorado State Park.:

  • If you are sick, stay home. Follow CDC guidelines and avoid spreading the virus to others.
  • Keep a social distance from others. Coloradans have access to 41 state parks that offer a variety of outdoor activities. CPW recommends activities done alone or with people that live in your home, such as walking, hiking, biking and fishing. These activities can be enjoyed while keeping you at a distance from others. CDC recommends six feet of distance from others.
  • Avoid high-risk or remote activities. Accidents stemming from high-risk types of activities may require extensive resources. Colorado Search and Rescue teams are prepared and ready to respond, but could become overloaded if the number of calls increases and the number of available responders decreases. Being responsible outdoors can also help prevent additional burdens on our first responders and healthcare workers.
  • Announce your presence to others. Help maintain the recommended six feet of social distance. Signal your presence with your voice or a bell when passing others. 
  • Stay regional. Front Range residents should avoid traveling to the high country or small mountain communities that are closed to visitors. 
  • Avoid times and places of high use. To avoid creating large crowds and groups at popular trails or outdoor areas, spread out to less popular spots, and avoid times of highest use if possible. If an outdoor area is more crowded than anticipated, do not hesitate to adjust plans. Use COTREX to discover and explore other local trails in your area to help disperse traffic.
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and cover coughs with your elbow.