DENVER – Colorado’s natural resources have served as important sources of solace for so many people during the pandemic, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Library want all Coloradans to experience everything the great outdoors has to offer.

The Check Out State Parks program is a collaboration between state agencies that can help Coloradans visit state parks at no cost, and experience everything the great outdoors has to offer through hands-on learning.

“We want to give all Coloradans the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature,” said Debbie Lininger, marketing specialist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The Check Out State Parks program offers interactive backpacks that help you navigate all of our state parks. With so many outdoor spaces to explore and different types of recreation activities to enjoy, we included educational materials in each nature backpack to help you plan your next adventure and put nature theory into real-world practice.”

Nearly 300 Colorado libraries are participating in the Check Out State Parks program, including all public libraries, three military base libraries and publicly-funded academic libraries.

Local libraries offer one or two backpacks available for check out. Each backpack contains the following:

Annual Colorado State Park Pass for free park entry (hang tag)

Your Guide to Colorado’s State Parks

An activity ideas list

Binoculars

Leave No Trace - Outdoor Ethics Card

Educational materials: Fishing Basics Instruction Sheet, Colorado Trees and Wildflower Guide, Colorado Wildlife Guide, Colorado Birds Guide, and Night Sky Guide

“More than 2.8 million Coloradans have a public library card,” said Nicolle Davies, assistant commissioner of education at the Colorado Department of Education. “To reduce the community spread of COVID-19, we laminated each educational item in the backpacks for easy, effective cleaning between uses. The Check Out State Parks program is a very popular program among our Colorado community and we want people to still be able to take advantage of this program and learn about nature while feeling safe in the process.”

Library patrons can check out the backpack and park pass for up to seven days and use them to visit any Colorado state park.

In recognition of the need for all Coloradans to help protect our state’s natural resources while spending time enjoying them, Governor Jared Polis has proclaimed “Colorado Recreates Responsibly Week” Aug. 31 through Sept. 7. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking outdoor enthusiasts to recreate responsibly and participate in the #CareForColorado social movement to showcase how outdoor recreation can be balanced with mindful conservation in an effort to care for Colorado.

 Responsible recreation includes respecting seasonal trail closures, not walking on or damaging vegetation, disposing of trash and waste, properly distinguishing campfires, not touching or feeding wildlife, and following trail etiquette to respect others.   

Learn more about the Care for Colorado – Leave No Trace principles and how to preserve Colorado for generations to come. Check with your local library about the availability of the backpack for check out.

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