COLORADO SPRINGS — Legislation just passed by state lawmakers and signed by Colorado’s governor adds a state park pass to your vehicle registration. The wording says it is optional, but vehicle owners need to understand what that entails.
Colorado State Park visitation is increasing rapidly. Eighteen million visitors in 2019, to 19 million in 2020, this year's pace is on track for an even higher number. "We just keep getting more and more popular," said Travis Duncan with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The new park pass system is intended as an investment in maintenance and public land expansion.
Annual state park passes have long been available to visitors. Starting in 2023 a discounted half price pass will now be an automatic addition to vehicle registration in the state. "If that was implemented this year with the $80 price point, you would pay no more than $40 for that pass,” said Duncan, “That's not going to be implemented until 2023, so you know we'll see what the price point looks like at that point."
The wording says the fee is optional, but you pay for the pass unless you indicate you do not want it. If you have more than one vehicle you have to make the choice to opt out for each one.
The regular priced pass remains for people who do not own vehicles or are from out of state. There is also the higher priced interchangeable pass that can be moved from one vehicle to another. They will be sold through State Parks offices.
There are other states like Montana and Michigan with similar park pass fee programs. State lawmakers considered the success in those states while creating this new program.
Projections show the fee system could add tens of millions of dollars each year to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife budget.