Stay safe at Colorado parks this Fourth of July Weekend, wear a life jacket

Life jackets save lives. Paddleboards and kayaks are considered vessels, and life jacket requirements apply.

Coloradans and out-of-state visitors play an integral role in keeping our state parks clean, living in harmony with wildlife, and making the outdoors safer to explore. 

Below are a few safety tips on how to have fun and be safe this holiday weekend.  

Know Before You Go 
Colorado weather is unpredictable, and conditions change constantly. 

  • Choose your destination based on the weather forecast and your activity based on your skill level and safety gear. 
  • Find a Colorado state park map and see what activities are available at each state park using the Colorado Parks Guide (el folleto de parques en Español) or the Park Finder Tool.
  • Discover park events and classes on the CPW Events Calendar.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Whatever you bring into the outdoors, take it out with you. Bring plastic grocery bags to carry trash when trash cans are not available or full. 
  • Stay hydrated. Bring more water than you think you (and your pet) will need. 
  • Wear sunscreen. Use the free sunscreen stations at select state parks to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays. 

Boating and River Safety
Life jackets save lives. This year, the majority of water-related deaths occurred because people did not wear a life jacket. 

There have already been over 20 water-related fatalities in Colorado this year, and the outdoor summer season is just beginning. In 2023, CPW tracked 32 water-related fatalities, down from 42 in 2022, a state record. CPW tracked 22 deaths in 2021 and 34 deaths in 2020.

CPW officers are actively writing tickets for boaters and paddlers who are not wearing a life jacket. Tickets cost over $100.

  • Wear a life jacket​.
  • Dress accordingly and protect your​self from the dangers of cold water shock. Regardless of your age or experience level, cold water can quickly create a drowning emergency.
  • Paddleboards and kayaks are considered vessels, and life jacket requirements apply. 
  • Heavy rain or snow melting in nearby mountains can raise water levels quickly and without notice. Check river flows at
  • Only boat or paddle in conditions in which you are comfortable and confident paddling.
  • Boat and raft with a buddy and avoid floating alone, especially during high flows.
  • For recreationists who want to go rafting but need help navigating the challenging water conditions, CPW recommends hiring a Colorado-licensed river outfitter.

Be Careful with Fire
Although parts of Colorado have received high moisture levels this year, drought conditions still impact whether campfires are allowed or restricted this summer.

  • Download the free Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) mobile app for active fire alerts, including wildfires and prescribed burns in covered areas.
  • Check fire restrictions or bans at
  • Use designated campfire areas when allowed and available. 
  • Drown fires out with water until you can touch the embers.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. 

Keep Wildlife Wild
Summer is a sensitive time for wildlife since many species nest or protect their young. Wildlife can get more aggressive this time of year if they aren’t given enough space or approached by humans. Cow elk and moose become incredibly protective of their calves while they are immobile newborns.

For more information on Colorado state parks, visit

Join us in keeping Colorado, Colorado. Get a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass with your next vehicle registration and support our state parks, search and rescue teams, avalanche safety, wildlife conservation, and outdoor education. Learn more at and

Discover more ways to “Do Colorado Right” and embrace the Colorado Tourism Office Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles. Watch videos on how to Always Wear the Right Life Vest like Patty, River & EverestHire a Licensed Guide, and Check Local Fire Bans like Coloradan Quin Gable.