Welcome to Colorado. Do you have a reservation?

From Maroon Bells to Hanging Lake, you’ll need to save your spot in advance this summer

Margaret Fleming
The Colorado Sun
Peggy Jo Trish helps visitors at Maroon Bells Lake on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

If you want to visit some of Colorado’s most iconic and beautiful outdoor spots this summer, you’re likely going to need to make a reservation. Park officials say the reservations are needed to manage crowds that are growing bigger every year.

Colorado parks are full and getting fuller. How will the state decide who gets in, and who gets hurt?

“It improves their visitor experience because they’re able to find parking at the sites when they get there and not trying to turn around in a dangerous spot or trampling vegetation trying to park off the side of the road,” said Reid Armstrong, who is the public affairs specialist for Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Crowded parking lots aren’t the only reason parks implement a reservation system. Bigger crowds have led to more waste, more shortcut trails that tear down the land, and more poaching of wildlife in the past several years, according to officials at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Reservations look to be the future of outdoor exploration in Colorado and the emerging approach to accessing public lands. Some of Colorado’s busiest locations will require timed entry reservations that can fill up months in advance.

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