The hugely successful "Check Out State Parks" Program is back for 2017. You can check out a backpack — which includes binoculars, guidebooks, and a seven-day free pass to all 42 state parks — at your local branch of the Garfield County Libraries. Last year, our backpacks were checked out 162 times and were used to visit Harvey Gap, Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls state parks among others.
While a Colorado State Parks pass costs $70 per vehicle per year, the "Check Out State Parks" program allows people to explore our public lands for free. "This program puts us on track with the governor's initiative to encourage Coloradans, particularly children, teens and the underserved, to develop deeper connections with the natural environment that sets Colorado apart as a special place," Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Bob Broscheid said in a statement.
One backpack at each Garfield County Library is available to be put on hold, and you will be contacted when your reservation comes up. You can put a hold on that backpack using your library card in the online catalog or at your local library. The second backpack at each library is a "lucky day" backpack that is available at the library if nobody has it checked out. Simply ask a librarian at the front desk if that backpack is available when you visit the library. Both backpacks check out for seven days. Plan on picking up and returning your backpack to the same branch.
"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."
Amy Shipley is assistant director of Garfield Public Libraries.
This article originally appeared in the Post Independent on Thursday, April 20, 2017.