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Eldorado Canyon State Park is exploring a timed entry reservation system to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission to address congregation and traffic concerns on weekends and summer holidays.

The timed entry reservation system was introduced to the CPW Commission at its March 9-10 meeting in Denver, and the commission will give final consideration for possibly implementing this pilot program at its next Commission meeting, May 4-5.

If approved, reservations for the pilot program could begin as early as August 2022. In 2023, reservations would be required May 15 through September 15. Entry reservations would only be required for vehicle access on weekends and holidays during the May-September period, and visitors without vehicle registrations will still be able to access the park via the free shuttle service if they have a Colorado state parks pass.

“Our hope is the reservation system will reduce impacts to the community of Eldorado Springs, protect natural resources and maintain a safe, quality recreational experience for years to come,” said Park Manager John Carson. “The proposed system will help visitors plan for their visit while managing their expectations of entry into the park.”

Eldorado Canyon State Park consistently reaches vehicle capacity on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays starting in April and through October. Additionally, visitation has increased 118 percent since 2013, when the park welcomed 247,068 visitors compared to the 539,525 in 2021.

“That increase 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 proposed timed-entry reservation system would be implemented and distributed at using Aspira, the reservation and licensing system CPW uses. Entry reservations would be allocated free of charge, and a valid Colorado state parks pass will be required to enter, along with the reservation.

  • Reservations would be required for each vehicle entering the park from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays from May 15 through September 15.
  • There will be a 75-80 percent maximum capacity for reservations issued.
  • 20 percent of reservations will be held and available to purchase the day before at 3:00 p.m. through the Aspira reservation system.
  • Reservations will be released in two-hour entry windows.
  • A maximum of four timed-entry reservations may be purchased in a 30-day period per person.
  • Entry to the park will be allowed without a reservation for those utilizing the shuttle bus or bicycles. A valid Colorado state parks pass will be required for those 16 and over who enter the park via shuttle or bicycle.
  • Individuals looking to walk into the park on weekends and holidays are encouraged to access the park by utilizing the free shuttle service.

Public comments received during Eldorado Canyon State Park’s visitor use management planning process showed that visitors:

  • Want to be able to plan in advance.
  • Want to be able to plan close to their anticipated visit.
  • Want to have a range of entry times rather than an exact time.
  • Want permits on peak visitation days only.
  • Do not want a reserved parking spot.
  • Do not want limits on the length of their stay.

If the pilot program is approved by the CPW Commission, park staff will evaluate the effectiveness of the timed entry reservation system at the conclusion of the 2023 pilot season. For more information about the pilot, visit CPW’s website.