Editor’s Note: Colorado Parks and Wildlife sent out this notice and we’re passing it along as a general Hippocratic Oath for outdoorists everywhere. Be a good steward to wildlands and wildlife. And don’t be an ass to other folks.
If you’re riding horses or encountering horse riders, please read this Open Letter around trail sharing.
By Colo. Parks and Wildlife
DENVER – With the winter season coming to a close and the spring season on the horizon, outdoor enthusiasts are getting prepared for the next seasonal cycle of outdoor opportunities. Visitors play an integral role in keeping our landscapes healthy, living in harmony with wildlife and making the outdoors inclusive and welcoming to all.
Below are a few expert outdoor tips on how to recreate responsibly and help avoid search and rescue scenarios.
Know Before You Go
Be aware of constantly changing weather conditions and water temperatures.
- Change your outdoor adventure based on the weather forecast. If the area you want to explore has bad weather, help yourself and our outdoor first responders by changing your outdoor plan to avoid hazardous conditions.
- Be aware of seasonal closures of public lands that were extended through April.
- Stay hydrated. Bring more water than you think you (and your pet) will need.
Stick to Trails
Melting snow leaves trails and vegetation more open to damage. Be sure to stick to trails and walk in the middle of the trail — even if it’s wet, muddy, slushy or icy — to avoid erosion and damage to trailside plants.
- Trail etiquette is social etiquette. Yield to uphill hikers and bikers, be friendly and considerate when needing to pass and keep control of your pets on the trail.
- Use the CPW Park Finder Tool to discover outdoor activities at each state park and to learn about trail closures.
- Download the COTREX app to find a list of trail maps.
- Wear sturdy footwear — like insulated, waterproof hiking boots — so you can stick to trails even in wet and muddy conditions.
Keep Wildlife Wild
Spring can be a particularly sensitive time for wildlife since many species are nesting, having their young or coming out of hibernation.
- Do not feed or approach young wildlife.
- Be bear aware on trails and while camping.
- Seasonal shed antler collection restrictions continue through the end of April.
- Keep dogs leashed on dog-friendly trails.
- If you see wildlife that appears sick or injured, leave it alone. Call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and talk to a trained wildlife officer for guidance.
Leave it as you Find It
Conservation starts small, and every individual can take proactive steps to reduce their impact on our natural resources.
- Don’t pick flowers so they can help the bees and other ecosystems.
- Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.
Trash the Trash
Throw all of your trash away and help leave our outdoor spaces better than you found them.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Whatever you bring into the outdoors, take it out with you. This includes food waste, toilet paper and dog waste bags.
- Get involved and help keep our trails clean.
For more information on responsible recreation, see our OutreachToolkit and read CPW and partner online resources.