The summer of 2020 was historic in terms of the number of visitors to the mountains. Records at national parks, forest service land, and wilderness areas were shattered across the west as people fled COVID closures to enjoy the outdoors. This summer we are beginning to see the consequences, with new closures, permits, and shuttles introduced at several Colorado fourteeners. Here are some of the impacted areas, along with advice for helping us protect public access in the future.
Quandary Peak Parking Permits & Shuttle
Quandary Peak is the busiest fourteener in Colorado. All of that traffic is leading to significant parking issues at the small trailhead and nearby county and state roads. After several issues with vehicles blocking access to emergency rescue crews, the county is taking action.
There will now be a mandatory parking permit program, with a fee of around $5-$20, with a free shuttle service from Breckenridge for those unable to get a parking permit. All roads around the trailhead will be closed to ensure emergency access to the area. You can still bike to the trailhead or get dropped off to hike – permits are only required to park. The new program is intended to go into effect on July 30, 2021.
You can find more info about these changes here.
Decalibron Temporary Closure
As you probably already know, the Decalibron area (Mount Democrat, Mount Cameron, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Bross) has been closed for the past two months due to trespassing and violations of Leave No Trace. While the peaks are expected to reopen soon, the closure is a good reminder that access to these peaks is a privilege – not a right. You can help protect long term access to the Decalibron by respecting the temporary closure, staying on trail when it reopens, avoiding Mount Bross (which has been closed for 15+ years), and always practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics on the mountains.
You can find more info about this issue here.
Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness Permits
Lastly, the Forest Service is considering implementing a $12 per night fee for those staying the night in the Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness. Home to Capitol Peak and other tough fourteeners, this would impact anyone hoping to climb these peaks as an overnight. The permit and fee is in response to a significant increase in traffic and resources damage in the area, often due to people not following Leave No Trace practices.
You can share a public comment about these proposed changes and learn more here.
Help Us Protect Acces: Practice Leave No Trace Ethics!
With more people heading to the hills, these trends are likely to continue or even escalate. It has never been more important to practice Leave No Trace ethics while exploring the mountains in Colorado and elsewhere. You can help us preserve access by staying on the trail, packing out all your waste, picking campsites responsibly, and respecting private property. Together, we can help preserve these peaks wee love for future generations. See you out on the trail!