FORT COLLINS, Colo — Reservations will soon be available for Mount Evans and Brainard Lake recreation areas, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced Wednesday.
Mount Evans Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open on June 4, weather permitting, and reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance beginning June 2.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open June 11, and reservations up to 14 days in advanced can be made beginning May 27.
The new reservation system is being put in place due to a big increase in visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitors will be able to select a reservation time slot from multiple windows and will be able to pick details for their visits unclouding which parking area they want to use.
Reservations cost $2, are are not required for biking and hiking in those areas.
> Video above from May 4: New reservation system coming for Mount Evans, Brainard Lake.
These two locations draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and USFS said the reservation system is reduce waiting and crowding at the welcome stations, visitor centers and attractions.
“Our goal is to reduce crowding and improve the overall experience, which will also benefit the wildlife, like mountain goats, that call Mount Evans home,” said Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist with the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. “It will take some advance planning, and visitors will need to make some extra time to learn about the areas and secure a reservation. We also recommend that before heading out, check the forests Know Before You Go page for all the latest updates and alerts.”
There was a 200% increase in outdoor recreation across Colorado’s northern Front Range in 2020, according to a news release, with a “large number of first-time visitors seeking an escape from the constraints of social distancing.”
What happened next were long lines at entrance stations, overflowing trailheads and some bad parking jobs, a story that might be familiar to anyone who’s visited other popular areas like Rocky Mountain National Park or Colorado’s 14ers in recent years.
Last year in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the USFS said people inadvertently created “thousands of new campsites” when they stayed in undeveloped areas for the night, building “hundreds of new campfire rings” and leaving human waste and trash in the municipal water supply.
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