Colorado Public Camping Sites at Premium
The departing army of Democrats, celebrities and media people won't be the only ones hightailing it out of town on Friday. Labor Day weekend is upon us, and the thousands of Colorado campsites beckon – as they do every year for outdoor fans from here and across the country, according to the Rocky Mountain News, Denver.
But this time, don't be surprised if there are fewer out-of-state plates on vehicles heading for the hills, a spokeswoman for Colorado State Parks said.
"Campsites are more likely to be filled by Colorado people this weekend, with the price of gas being so high," said communications manager Deb Frazier. "We've seen more reservations from here than from other states."
Which is not to say that there are oodles of camping sites waiting to be filled. For example, of the state system's 34 campgrounds, fewer than one-third have availability on Saturday.
Several campgrounds – such as San Luis, Cherry Creek, Golden Gate and Highline – are already booked for the entire three-day weekend.
According to Frazier, the state parks have seen an increase in attendance this year, as well as more first-timers packing up the car and heading for the hills. Higher gas prices may account for the drop in out-of-state campers, but the greater numbers of locals may also reflect the opening of new facilities at St. Vrain and Rifle Gap, she added.
Colorado's national parks are also seeing good business.
"We're pleased and pleasantly surprised," said Linda Alick, chief ranger at Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison. Alick pointed to the two facilities in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison that have seen a 100% jump in reservations from last year. And this, she added, is for a holiday weekend that traditionally hasn't drawn nearly the numbers seen around the Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
Denise Adamic, a spokeswoman for the state's Bureau of Land Management, agreed that in-state traffic will likely dominate at BLM's 53 campgrounds over the weekend.
"This is the last hurrah for the summer for people in Colorado," she said, adding that campground hosts have noticed a relative scarcity of out-of-state reservations for this weekend.
Thanks to the Internet, finding and reserving a campsite has become much easier than the old routine of driving and searching – though that remains the modus operandi for many weekend campers.
According to Janelle Smith of the National Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Region, a search of the national website displayed 142 pages of available and booked Colorado campgrounds.