Despite 70% opt-out rate, Keep Colorado Wild Passes program delivers more revenue than forecast

Adding a $29 fee to license plate bills sent almost $41 million to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, plus money for avalanche forecasting and search and rescue groups

Tents and RVs fill the Dutch Charlie area of the Ridgway State Park, July 7, 2024, in Ouray County.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

More than 1.5 million Colorado vehicle owners have delivered more than $40 million to Colorado Parks and Wildlife by including a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass as part of their annual registrations. 

The first fiscal year of Keep Colorado Wild pass sales ended June 30 with revenue reaching $40.9 million. That unofficial tally — final numbers will be updated by the fall — means that parks, wildlife, backcountry search and rescue volunteers, and avalanche forecasters will get boosts in funding in the coming year. 

The Keep Colorado Pass plan that launched in January 2023 adds $29 to every vehicle registration in the state unless owners opt out. The pass provides access to all state parks. The 2021 legislation that created the program hoped to generate more revenue than the annual $80 parks pass that delivered $23 million to CPW in 2020. Early projections hoped CPW would harvest at least $36 million in annual revenue from the new parks pass plan.

That plan set aside the first $32.5 million in Keep Colorado Wild Pass sales revenue for the state’s 42 parks. Then $2.5 million would go to more than 50 Colorado Backcountry Search and Rescue, or BSAR, organizations. And the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, or CAIC, will get $1 million.

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