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Colorado waives fees for Black Friday at state parks

Visitors encouraged to skip holiday crowds and enjoy the fresh air
Jackson Gulch Reservoir in Mancos State Park. Colorado’s seventh annual Fresh Air Day is Friday, and access to all state parks will be free. (Durango Herald file)

The commerce holiday Black Friday is closely associated with swarms of shoppers and deals on merchandise, but if you want to get away from the crowds this year, look no further than your local state park.

Colorado is offering free access to all state parks Friday in observation of the seventh annual Fresh Air Friday, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Fresh Air Friday was created to encourage Coloradans to spend time in the great outdoors.

Although all 42 of Colorado’s state parks will be open to the public on Friday, visitor offices may be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. CPW encourages people to call a park’s visitor office before they visit.

The state park finder available on CPW’s website (https://bit.ly/3DOI5nJ) is a convenient way to scope out park options nearby. The park finder links to individual park pages and indicates if park alerts have been issued at those locations.

For example, an alert issued for Mancos State Park, about 32 miles northwest of Durango, says Jackson Gulch Reservoir water levels are so low that the concrete boat ramp is completely out of the water.

The park alert warns that while launching boats may be successful, loading them back in the mud “will be extremely difficult” and “boaters launch at their own risk and retrieval.”

Another way to search state parks and trails is with the Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) mobile app, according to CPW.

Some state parks may be hosting Fresh Air Friday events, although no events were planned at Mancos State Park as of Wednesday morning.

When venturing into the backcountry of Colorado’s state parks, minimum impact practices can preserve the environment in its natural state.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, which partnered with the Colorado Tourism Office through Care for Colorado, provides seven principles to reduce human impact in Colorado’s state parks:

  • Plan ahead and prepare (know before you go).
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces (stick to trails).
  • Dispose of waste properly (trash the trash).
  • Leave what you find (and leave it as you find it).
  • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  • Respect wildlife (keep wildlife wild).
  • Be considerate of other visitors (share Colorado trails and parks).

cburney@durangoherald.com

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