Bicycle Colorado

We want your input on State Park fees for people who bike and walk

In the past few months, Bicycle Colorado staff have researched and talked with stakeholders to understand the reasoning behind newly-implemented Colorado state park entrance fees for people who bike, walk and ride horses.

Colorado’s State Parks

Colorado’s 42 state parks face growing challenges due to unprecedented population growth, urban sprawl, habitat loss and a growing segment of citizens who are not connected to nature and its care.

Compounding these challenges is financial stress: the cost of maintaining our parks is outpacing revenue. Currently, the majority of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s, or CPW’s, revenue comes from hunting and fishing licenses, State Park passes and permits. Less than one percent of its funding is from state taxes. As a result CPW must find new sources of revenue and/or reduce costs.

That was some of the impetus behind Senate Bill 18-143, or the Future Generations Act, which was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper in 2018. As part of this act, CPW was directed by the state legislature to expand the user pay model beyond vehicles entering Colorado State Parks. Four state parks have a long standing park pass called an Individual Pass which allows access to those entering a park on foot, bicycle and horseback.  These parks are: Colorado State Forest, Eldorado Canyon, Lory, and Arkansas Headwaters State Recreation Area. This was expanded to 16 more properties in January 2019. The additional parks where you’ll now find a $4.00 entrance fee for people on foot, bicycle and horseback are: Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Barr Lake, Crawford, Colorado State Forest, Eldorado Canyon, Elkhead Reservoir, Harvey Gap, Highline Lake, James M. Robb – Colorado River, Lory, Pearl Lake, Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls, Stagecoach, Steamboat Lake, Sweitzer Lake, Sylvan Lake, Trinidad Lake, Vega and Yampa River. 

A person is exempt from the new $4.00 fee if under the age of 16 or if entering a park with a valid motor vehicle annual park pass, which currently is $80 for an affixed annual pass or $120 per year for an annual hangtag pass. Additionally, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers Centennial Passes for limited-income residents, Aspen Leaf Passes for those 65 and older, Columbine Passes for people with disabilities and passes for State Parks volunteers and those who serve in the military, all of which exempt the pass holder from the $4.00 fee.

As we continue to work with CPW on this issue, we could use your help. What do you think about paying to enter state parks by bicycle or on foot? Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts by taking this brief survey before May 5. You do not need to be a member of Bicycle Colorado to complete this survey.

Feedback from the survey will be shared with Colorado Parks and WIldlife and will inform our efforts to bring this to a favorable resolution. We will also publish the findings to our members and followers.

Want to support us as we continue conversations regarding state park fees in Colorado? Become a member today.

Membership is a simple and easy way to ensure that we can continue to work for you and all other people who bike in Colorado. 

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.

COMMENTS (57)

Sue Thorndill - Reply

I think the new $4 is very unfair for walkers and bicyclists who are simply passing through a park. Even a 10-min break, with possibly using the restroom is not worth the fee.

    Alex - Reply

    And making fishermen and hunters pay a fee is fair? I think everyone should have to pay a fee for using an area. It would help clean up the areas. It’s sort of like having a toy that you have so people get to use it but once you say you have to pay to use that toy people are no longer interested.

Sue Thorndill - Reply

I am against the $4 fee for walkers and bicyclists.

    Kirk Knickerbocker - Reply

    No fees for outdoor use

Jamie Porta - Reply

We’ve already paid for these trails. Organize volunteer groups to clean sections, like the adopt a highway program. In a just situation you apply fees and taxes to things society should discourage like tobacco use. This does not fit with Colorado’s image as an outdoor activity tourist destination.

    Steve Selle - Reply

    I would think the state would want to promote cycling to parks instead of driving a vehicle emitting more pollution into our environment.

Eric Goakes - Reply

I am glad to have met you guys in Fruita a few weeks ago, my opinion about the State Park fee, it’s plain and simply a ripoff, also it may be a way to punish cyclist!

BJ Ondo - Reply

If you all had a “family” membership we’d join but we are on a very limited income so we can’t afford to be members.

    Jack Todd - Reply

    Hi BJ, thanks for letting us know! Your membership does apply to your family members as well, sorry that isn’t clear.

    Chuck - Reply

    No reason we should be paying. The others that boat and enjoy the parks have to pay. The outdoorsman pay way more in fees than we do. It’s time we do our part and contribute

Marcos Cordova - Reply

While I can see that there is usage and there are costs involved for maintenance of the parks, $4 is too much, $2 would be more in line with the impact to the upkeep of the park. As compared to a motor vehicle with picnickers or campers

Bill Evans - Reply

I’m appalled by the increase in fees. Being over 65 doesn’t decrease fees like in the past.

    Andrea Michaud - Reply

    The annual pass for seniors is less than the annual pass available to non seniors.

Scott - Reply

Well its about time someone else starts paying for the use of our great outdoors besides the hunters and the trail riders.

Clinton Smith - Reply

It about time. As a hunter and fisherman I have been paying fees for years. Al users should have to pay there fare share.

Mark evert - Reply

If one has to pay a use fee then all should pay!

Shar - Reply

The fee is fair and reasonable. Certain users should not be exempt bc it’s “just” to get water or use the bathroom. Maintenance of these facilities isn’t free. I’m a cyclist, hunter, hiker, fisherman and use State Parks for several of those activities. I tried to take the survey but it requires a Google account. No mas.

    Amy - Reply

    We have to pay a boat fee and a parks pass – both of which went up this year. Why is it okay for some of us to pay but not others? I think hikers and cyclists should pay like the rest of us if they are going into the parks. A comment above reminds us that maintenance on bathrooms and such isn’t
    free.

Peter Ducalius - Reply

I believe these fees have been a long time coming, as both a biker, hiker, hunter, and fisher. the unfair share of the burden has been put on the hunters and fishers and I have been the unfair recipient of a day interrupted hunting and fishing by non-paying bystanders in the parks. At least now I feel like if my huntiung of fishing is screwed up by someone else, at least it will be to the benefit of the park. The parks fees otherwise will not affect me as a hang tag owner, I’ve already paid for them.

Bridget Isle - Reply

I can understand fees for large parks for motor operated vehicles, but I am AGAINST any fees for walkers or bicycle users! Please allow walkers and bicycle folks to enjoy our state WITHOUT a fee!

    Brino - Reply

    I could easily see someone saying “I can see the hikers and bikers paying a fee, but dont charge anyone else that wants to use the area”
    Hunters and motorized have paid for way more than most people think to keep these areas awesome, only to be judged by many.

Jason - Reply

The fees are needed but $4 a day and $80 a year seem way to steep. In Kansas where in from it’s $25 a year

Andy Burke - Reply

I agree 💯% if us sledders have to pay so should all users. I say all states should have to buy a pass. Skiers have a tag on their skis, walkers have a pass they carry bicyclist have a pass just like atvs n dirt bikes.

Sarrah - Reply

They are pricing us out of our sport- soon there will be a tax on the air we breathe

    Ralph - Reply

    Try being a snowmobiler, boater or dirtbiker. We have been paying fees for decades to use USFS and BLM managed lands. welcome to the club

    Mark Stewart - Reply

    Absolutely no one or group should be responsible for the total costs. If you want to use it you should expect to pay for that privilege. That means everyone!!!!!!

Jerry - Reply

I am a volunteer for the Oregon state Parks, no walkers or cyclists pay a fee unless Camping. Oregon state Parks are supported by the state lottery. If Colorado needs more money how about tapping this source.

Bob - Reply

About time, just cause you walk or bike doesn’t exempt you from paying your fair share! Stop being cheap.

    Ralph - Reply

    agree!

Michael Beldon - Reply

Same ole same ole, it’ll always be the same. The state will never have enough money. The fees will climb every year to justify rising cost. Perhaps, one day, people will say,”no more” and just stop paying these excessive fees.

Ralph - Reply

I am all for it. Let them start paying as the OHV users have been having to pay for decades to use public lands and yes they also volunteer their own PERSONAL time to rehab, repair and clean trails. And the taxpayers have already “paid” to maintain these lands. I think this has been a long time coming and am happy to see it.

Rich Bohne - Reply

I think it is a great idea. We as hunters , fisherman and campers have been paying the fee for years. My daughter has cheer camp at state parks and I am required to purchase a day pass to go in and just pick her up , only about 10 minutes of being on the state property. Yes I’m all for it and think it should have been implemented years ago!!

David - Reply

Yes they should be charged! I’m tired of going to these areas and finding their trash and poop on the ground.

    Debby Phelps - Reply

    How about a lifetime fee for old people like in the National Parks?65 or 70. Or use the National Park Pass in place of the fee like they let you in Sedona.

Juan Barbero - Reply

Money to maintain and improve parks has to come from somewhere. The most fair method is to utilize user’s fees. If you are going to use it, even by just going through it on your way, then you should pay to help it be maintained. But I believe, the annual fee should be very affordable and should allow like three companions to be covered on your pass. Make it maybe $10-20/year.

Jim - Reply

Glad to see that the cost of conservation is no longer completely on the shoulders of hunters and fishers.

Richard - Reply

Totally agree, hunters and anglers have paid these fees for years. Plus many more fees. Plus campers and and hikers. Small price to pay for the scenery. It’s only fair that bicyclists who enjoy the same scenery on a daily basis should do their part as well.

    Shannon - Reply

    Fees should apply to all users. I’m not sure why anyone who uses the amenities (paths, restrooms, water fountains, etc.) should be exempt. Upkeep costs money so that all can continue to enjoy the parks. Those who don’t want to contribute can find another place to hike or cycle.

Leona - Reply

I agree with several on here – it is about time others start helping to pay for use of the parks. If you are gonna use it, you have to help maintain it just like using the roads. We pay additional fees to drive on roads as should bikers and walkers to maintain the parks.

Tracie Baker - Reply

I am not in favor of the fees for walkers and bicyclists. The fee is an overreach of the State Of Colorado to low impact park users. Maintenance of roads or daycamp facilities have little or no adverse impact from these users.

Angela - Reply

Very disappointed in the new fees. We pay for the “new/higher” hunting permits, tags for our atvs, boats, motorcycles and now can’t ride our bikes or walk in without a fee. It’s sad. We try to get society out walking, biking for health and spirit, which makes for a better citizen, then throw on a dastardly fee. Seems like everything is a hassle anymore. I just had a family group here for a birthday and we were wanting to go on a group walk at James m Robb. Toddlers to 84 year old. We all pay multiple taxes and fees. It was too much of a hassle, and ultimately decided not to share what would have been a great family opportunity. I want to be able to jump on my bike for the freedom and not hassles. Too much regulation!! Will not buy our usual park pass this year. Boycotting!

Andrea - Reply

People that walk or bike into parks are no less impactful on resources except the for actual roads. They use the same facilities and interact with the same staff. They use the natural resources in the same way. Maybe in the future they could have a program for walkers or cyclists who are just passing through, but then you’d have people who claim to be passing through, but who are actually using the toilets, generating trash, impacting the landscape, etc. Walk in passes aren’t new. If you read your annual pass reciept from years previous, it tells you that you can use that as your walk in pass at parks that require one.

Garris Flebbe - Reply

This fee will discourage use which is not good.

Phil Ehrlich - Reply

If it was a National Park, Monument, Battlefield, Federal Recreation Area, Federal Wildlife Refuge, etc etc. You would have to pay…to pay for the facilities and maintenance… and you said this is a state park(s)…which is a highly managed place paid for by hunters fishermen boaters..and yes bicyclists..all who enter even to pee!..for example restrooms as you stated… cost to be built, to clean and provide toilet paper… so pay your way as all the other Recreational users do…just because you bike is not a free pass. If you want free… go to city park or open USFS or BLM…or an actual public city or county road or trail… your lucky most if not all state wildlife areas are free until you unlawfully visit when closed for wildlife nesting or winter range…I’ve seen that…dogs running loose in a nesting closure… But I do think you should be required to buy a $10 habitat stamp to enter a state wildlife area like hunters and fishers have to. QUIT YOUR WHINNING

Phyllis Conley - Reply

I support the fees for all who enjoy the parks. If you walk, or ride your bike, through the park you should pay. Upkeep and maintaining the park isn’t cheep. The parks do not receive any tax revenue. The only revenue they have is from the sale of passes, licenses and a little from the lottery It’s only fair that all who use the park assist with the upkeep and maintaining the park.

Dave - Reply

It seems a no-brainer to me that everyone who wants to use the facilities should all be paying a fee! The problem is that for so many years these fees have only been paid and collected from by a select few of the total number of people that use these areas (moslty OHV riders, hunters and fishers). The burden has been increasingly high on those select percentage of the public that use the parks, and over time these high fees have unfortunately cut back the number of people choosing to do these activities and pay for almost the entire parks budget. While those fees continue to increase to make up for the dropping number of the population doing it (hunters in particular from my understanding), CPW now needs to look at other ways to fund their budgets. If CPW had been charging walk ins and bicyclists a fee to use the facilities like they have been for the other groups all along, perhaps we wouldn’t be looking at all the price increases or the dwindling number of hunters that we have today that have “caused” the budget shortfall situation we have because they are no longer paying the bills. Certainly the fee structure CPW has proposed may need to be altered and that’s a topic for another day; but clearly anyone that’s able to reap the benefits that others have paid for over the years by using the parks regardless of how they enter should be paying to help keep these places open to the public! You want to enjoy the park, have everyone pay to do so regardless of how you enter or what activities you choose to do while you’re there!

Morgan Parker Brown - Reply

If you ride a bike into a park, you’re drawing on the park’s resources (who maintains the road?). If you stop to use the bathroom, you’re drawing on the park’s resources (who cleans and maintains the bathroom?). I ride into state parks probably 50 times per year. What a deal – $0! I would gladly pay $50 if they fixed the road in Cherry Creek SP

Liz K. - Reply

I agree that a walking/biking fee should be charged, but there should be a walking/biking-level annual pass option. Yes, you can use a car annual pass as your walking/biking pass, but what if you never use a car? I don’t think you should have to pay car-level fees for an annual pass if you don’t use a car. Maybe make a annual pass for walkers/bikers at $40 per year. That way, we are helping pay for amenities, but aren’t being charged for the wear and tear that is caused by motor vehicles.

CountryGirl - Reply

We pay a ton of fees (which I hear is nothing compared to what they have coming) to maintain roads, and the roads in Colorado are horrendous! Why would I support another way for the state to extort money from tax payers when they can’t even use the money they take from us for specific projects and actually use it for that?! Maybe they should prove that they’re actually managing our money wisely before we just start handing more over to them. This just punishes the responsible, nature-loving people for the jerks that come along and trash everything. We pack everything out and pick up other people’s trash along the way – maybe if they would enforce the litter and dog waste fines, they wouldn’t have to raise and implement more fees. Wyoming doesn’t nickle-and-dime people for everything like Colorado does and they have way nicer roads, rest areas and parks – I’m thinking we just need better management.

Kirk - Reply

The truth is park fees don’t actually go to the parks. Fees are collected by the state and state budgets are assigned to the parks. It makes no sense to encourage people to drive into the state park when a 2000 pound vehicle requires parking infrastructure and does significantly more damage to the roads. A small 50 cent to 1 dollar fee would be fair, but should also be covered under your existing park pass to avoid encouraging driving.

Andrea - Reply

Why not just charge for use of the facilities? Give those who pay for a park pass an access key to use the facilities, and they are otherwise kept locked so that people entering the park for free do not have access unless they go buy a pass. Might help keep the facilities cleaner that way, too. Walkers and cyclists are being punished unfairly by being charged as individuals for a pass, whereas people arriving in vehicles are only charged by vehicle. Park roads and parking facilities require far more maintenance due to wear and tear from vehicles, compared to any damage done by walkers and cyclists.

Kari - Reply

Isn’t this also encouraging trail users to drive to the trailhead? The amount of vehicles at certain trailheads is already regularly exceeding the spaces available. If there’s going to be a fee why can’t foot/bike trail access be included in the vehicle pass or provide an annual walk/bike pass option similar to what is offered to vehicles?

Larry potter - Reply

The idea of charging for bicycles and pedestrians is OK, the amount is not. Cars require parking, and create wear and tear to the roads. Bicycles do not. $4 fee is way too much, $1 would fair. I get it that CPW is under funded. We have begged CPW to fix the roads at Cherry Creek State Park for years where we hold a bicycle time trial series. The other issue is the funds go into a general fund, not directly to the park. We purchase each year about $7,000.00 worth of annual park passes for our participants. The CCSP Park management could care less since they don’t see the funds, and would like to see us out of the park.

John Schaeffer - Reply

Please talk with COBRAS Cycling staff about their experience with the KHMTT Series at Cherry Creek State Park. This decades old event is an icon in Colorado racing. KHMTT and racers pay over $8000 per year to put on this event. Yet each year Park Staff impose more restrictions, seemingly for no reason at all. One might almost think they want the event promoters to give up and end the event. Why? The park makes significant money for 7 days of racing on Wednesday evenings during late March, April and early May at a time when the Park is not really being used.

Fred - Reply

Cherry Creek State Park at Hampden to The Dam Rd is part of the spillway trail that connects the Cherry Creek trail. No, pay to pass through. I buy a pass to enjoy the park regardless. I still say no fee for, foot or bike traffic.

Chris - Reply

Where is where is all this marijuana money going to it’s a big rip-off is what it is everybody wants to get their hands into the pie what about the people that are disabled when somebody lights up a cigarette and just throws the butt down that but is still going to be there years from now

Robin Mendelson - Reply

NO charge for bikers and walkers!

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