Crawford State Park. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife
CSU faculty, staff and students can now use the library as a ticket to the outdoors — with the new Check Out Colorado State Parks passes available at Morgan Library.
As part of a partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and local library systems, Colorado State University and all Colorado public libraries are now providing two State Park passes for free entry to state parks.
Anyone with a library card – your CSU RamCard — can check out a parks pass that allows one vehicle entry into any of Colorado’s 42 state parks. The passes can be checked out for up to one week at a time — enough time for a weekend camping trip or to visit several parks to explore bike friendly trails, hike, or as an incentive to get a fishing license. Each pass also comes with a pack filled with items useful for an outdoor adventure.
The idea of the initiative is to provide a learning opportunity to those who may not be able to afford a parks pass, or just want to “try before you buy.” Daily pass prices range from $3 to $9 and are valid until noon following the day of purchase. That means users can save up to $63 on entrance fees by checking out the seven-day pass from the library.
But beyond the economics, the larger goal of the program is to get Coloradans outside and learning more about their environment in a fun and healthy way.
“We encourage all Coloradans to explore and learn through their libraries,” said Colorado State Library Development Director Sharon Morris. “This pass and backpack program gives residents the opportunity to literally ‘check out’ Colorado State Parks and discover the wildlife and beauty of our state.”
Each adventure pack includes binoculars, a wildlife viewing guide, a tree and wildflower identification guide, a parks brochure, suggested activities list, and the Leave no Trace outdoor ethics principle. While many public libraries will be providing this gear in a backpack, CSU is stuffing a heavy-duty plastic zipper bag, the same type used for technology rentals.
“CSU Libraries is excited about participating in the Check Out Colorado State Parks program this year. We think that it is a great fit for our campus community, and we hope that the kits will get a lot of use,” said Librarian Jocelyn Boice. She added that the library is exploring adding a reservation feature later this summer that would allow users to book a pass in advance; right now, it’s first-come, first-served. Passes are available at the Loan & Reserve Desk at Morgan Library.
The Poudre River Public Library District is also offering two passes at each of its three Fort Collins branches. Anyone who uses their RamCard as a public library card can borrow these kits as well. To find out how to set up a RamCard as a PRPLD library card, click here.
The program began last year, and so far, 97 percent of users have been likely to recommend a visit to a state park, with 77 percent of users likely to buy a day pass to visit, and 54 percent likely to buy an annual pass — leading to the expansion into publicly funded university libraries such as Morgan Library.
Some nearby parks include Lory State Park, Boyd Lake, St. Vrain and Eldorado Canyon, perfect for a summer staycation or day trip. View an interactive map of state parks here.