Eldorado Canyon State Park will require weekend timed-entry reservations this summer

Weekend visitors who access Eldorado Canyon State Park by motor vehicle will be required this summer to obtain a free timed-entry reservation, following approval of a pilot test program on Tuesday by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.

Reservations will not be required for visitors who arrive by bicycle or a free shuttle service that is provided by Boulder County in cooperation with CPW. The reservation system for motorists will begin operation sometime in July.

With soaring canyon walls, “Eldo” has been a world-class rock climbing destination for decades. It’s also home to hiking trails, popular picnic areas and fishing opportunities, but visitation has exploded in recent years from just over 247,000 in 2013 to more than 539,500 in 2021. CPW officials say the goal of the reservation system is to reduce impacts on the Eldorado Springs community (which has about 650 residents), protect natural resources, and maintain a quality outdoors experience that is safe for users.

RELATED: Climbers concerned that reservations system may be coming to famous Eldorado Canyon crags

Once it begins operation this summer, the reservation system will be in effect through Sept. 15. It will resume next year from May 15 to Sept. 15, after which CPW will make an evaluation as to whether to make it permanent. Reservations and park entry passes will be available through the agency’s online sales site, cpwshop.com.

The existing free shuttle service makes eight stops in the greater Boulder area before arriving at the park.

“We’re really excited about this,” CPW Northeast Region manager Mark Leslie told the CPW commissioners. “It’s the first state park in the system that we’ve done this timed-entry reservation system, following up on Rocky Mountain National Park and some other parks throughout the nation. We had originally considered throwing walk-in (visitors) into this process, but we’re not doing that right now. It’s just related to vehicles, because when we’ve done surveys in that park, that seems to be what drives the frustration with the public — the number of vehicles.”

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