Coronavirus Scare Providing Recreational Options for Home-bound Locals

Residents Trekking Across Area Trails to Escape Cabin Fever

~ by Trevor Phipps ~

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and the recently imposed stay at home orders, everyone is now experiencing a hefty case of “cabin fever.”  And for many, the worst part is that there are no sports to watch for a healthy diversion. Major League Baseball’s acclaimed opening day was put on hold last week to further add fuel into the “no professional sports” quagmire.

Playing sports has also become recently limited as basketball courts, gyms, and playgrounds have all shut down for public health reasons. Yes, the options are limited.

However, a prime outlet for getting exercise in these trying times is to enjoy the outdoors near your home. Luckily, residents are still allowed to leave the house to get a break, but the activities that are legal are limited. As Governor Jared Polis boldly stated last week, “This pandemic is not a vacation.”

As of now, public parks remain open but they have closed down all of their basketball courts, playgrounds and picnic areas. People can still go for a walk on public streets and take a trek in the park or city-maintained hiking trails. Mountain bike riding is also an activity that is allowed under the new stay at home order. But while doing any of these activities, people are legally required to practice social distancing and stay six feet away from others.

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument made an announcement last week saying that most of their facilities would be shut down but the trails within the monument would remain open and entrance would be free. “The visitor center, visitor center parking lot, and adjacent picnic area and pit toilets will be closed,” the press release issued by lead interpreter Jeff Wolin said. “The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Florissant Fossil Beds is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website ( and social media channels.”

Visitors can now hike on any of the trails on the monument’s property without having to pay a fee to get in. However, the only ways to access the trails are from the Hornbek Homestead parking lot and the Barksdale picnic area, and there will be no restroom facilities available at either location.

State parks have also remained open with similar rules and regulations. All of the visitor centers and staffed locations have closed, but the parks themselves will be open for visitors that abide by the state’s required social distancing regulations.

At the Eleven Mile Canyon State Park recreation area, just outside of Lake George, the attendant now sits in his car instead of the booth and does not handle any money. In order to get into the park, visitors must either bring exactly $7 cash or write a check and put it in the allotted payment envelope slot. Inside the recreation spot, all of the campgrounds and picnic grounds are closed, but the rest areas and hiking trails remain open.

Last week, several visitors went to Eleven Mile Canyon to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. Some chose to take a drive through the tunnels and sight-see, while others could be seen wading in the river and pulling out decent sized fish. Fishing is another activity that is still allowed by people who hold licenses, and fishermen have been frequenting other local bodies of water such as the pond at Woodland Park’s Memorial Park.

The trails within the canyon were also open, and hikers last week took advantage of the mostly stellar weather and practiced social distancing by spending time out isolated in nature. Actually, local hiking trails everywhere have been frequented by many locals since the stay at home order, including trails in Green Mountain Falls, such as the Ute Pass trail that runs parallel to Ute Pass Avenue.  Last week, this trail, which extends from the east border of GMF to the Ute Pass Elementary School, was packed with residents and canines. Other recreation hot spots have included Manitou Lake, north of Woodland Park.

Even though everyone is still allowed to leave their homes for certain outdoor activities, the governor has asked that people still practice the required six feet of social distancing ,and that they not travel far to participate in outdoor recreation. The governor suggested last week that people not travel outside of their city or community to recreate and asked that they use the facilities that are available closer to their homes.