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Eldorado Canyon State Park may test timed entry reservation system

Eldorado Canyon State Park entrance
Posted at 12:34 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 17:03:00-04

UPDATE | May 4 — A pilot program for a timed entry reservation system for vehicles at Eldorado Canyon State Park on weekends and holidays has been approved. It's the first timed entry system for a Colorado state park. Reservations can begin as early as August, though the exact date has not been announced yet. Reservations are required through Sept. 5, 2022. Reservations for 2023 will run from May 15 through Sept. 15.

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ELDORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A popular state park along Colorado's Front Range is exploring the option of a pilot program to address traffic concerns.

Last week, officials with Eldorado Canyon State Park proposed a timed entry reservation system during the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting. The system would address traffic problems on weekends and summer holidays.

The CPW Commission will give its final consideration on the program during its next meeting on May 4 and 5.

If approved, reservations through the pilot program could begin as early as August. Reservations in 2023 would be required for May 15 through Sept. 15, but would only apply on weekends and holidays. At the end of 2023, park staff will evaluate how the pilot program worked, according to CPW.

Visitors can also use a free shuttle service or bicycle to enter the park without a reservation, but they must have a valid Colorado State Parks pass.

Eldorado Canyon State Park is well-known for not only its hiking and biking trails, but its climbing, fishing, hunting and kayaking opportunities. The state of Colorado purchased the land in 1978, preserving the natural beauty of the area.

This move toward a timed entry reservation system comes after consistently packed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in the park from April through October. Since 2013, visitation increased 118% with 247,068 guests, the park reported.

Park Manager John Carson said he hopes this pilot program will help reduce impacts to Eldorado Springs, protect natural resources, and maintain a quality outdoor experience.

“That increase (in visitation) is compounded due to recent pandemic restrictions, changes in current weather patterns, increased population growth and the increase in popularity of outdoor recreation in Colorado,” Carson said. “It is not expected to drop off.”

The reservation system will use Aspira through CPWshop.com.

Here's a breakdown of the reservation system proposal:

  • All reservations are free, though visitors must have a valid state parks pass
  • Reservations are required for each vehicle between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weekends and state holidays from May 15-Sept. 15
  • 75-80% maximum capacity for reservations. The rest will be held to purchase the day before at 3 p.m. through the Aspira system
  • Reservations released in two-hour entry windows
  • Four reservations available per person in a 30-day period

Rocky Mountain National Park uses a similar timed entry reservation system.