The free ride is over for Colorado outdoor enthusiasts at more state parks.

Beginning this month, 16 more state parks will require a $4 daily pass for anyone entering the park without a vehicle. The new fees will apply to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders who enter 36  of Colorado's state park areas.

A year ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife instituted a $4 daily fee at 16 state parks, including James M. Robb Colorado River, Rifle Gap, and Rifle Falls. Prior to that, there were four state parks requiring the daily pass. This month brings the total to 36 the number Colorado State Parks requiring the daily fee. Eventually, all state parks will implement the $4 fee. It's all connected to a state law passed in 2018.

In theory, the $4 fee would apply to Grand Junction hikers on the Riverfront Trail at Corn Lake and hikers accessing the Connected Lakes area via the Audubon Trail. I can't be certain if daily use fees have been collected from hikers in those areas to this point, but I know local hikers and bikers were not happy when the new fee was introduced in 2019.

An annual affixed vehicle state park pass costs you $80. An annual pass for a family is $120 and can be moved between vehicles of the same family. CP & W says anyone with an annual pass can show that pass to enter a state park on foot or on a bike at no additional charge.

The daily fee for vehicle entrance to a state park ranges from $9 to $11.

Obviously, it costs a lot of money to operate Colorado's 42 state parks. Until this new law was passed, the burden of funding the operating costs of the parks has rested solely on those entering them in a vehicle. The new law ensures that everyone who uses a state park - regardless of what capacity they use it - will be paying for their outdoor pleasure and enjoyment.

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