DENVER — After a record-breaking summer, state officials are preparing for crowds in Colorado's backcountry.
This summer saw nearly 17 million visitors to state parks alone, four million more than the same time-frame in 2019.
"Everyone is telling us that people are out. Which is great in a way," said Travis Duncan, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "We want people to get outdoors, we know how important it is right now during the pandemic to have access to these outdoor spaces."
And if sales are any prediction, REI says their winter recreation gear is flying from the shelves.
"REI can confirm backcountry skis, cross country skis and split boards are up approximately 3X this year compared to last year. Backcountry safety is up nearly 2X compared to this time last year," said a spokesperson for REI. "Snowshoes also trending. We’ve seen 4X the amount of sales compared to this time last year. And this trend began in August."
As people seek to escape COVID-19 and social distance in nature, there are risks.
"It is not the time to be pushing your limits. You could put yourself in danger. It could be a burden on an already taxed search and rescue operation system," said Duncan.
"You should be out enjoying the Colorado mountains, it's a wonderful place, the winner is a great time to be in the Colorado mountains, you need to do that safely," said Ethan Greene, the director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. "Make sure you're prepared that can meet a lot of different needs depending on what you're doing."