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Open Space and Mountain Parks COVID-19 Response

Boulder Star area on Flagstaff Mountain is closed

The Boulder Star area on Flagstaff Mountain IS CLOSED to prevent gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic and because of ecological and safety concerns in the area. Visitors entering the Boulder Star closure area on Flagstaff Mountain can face up to a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail. Learn more. Follow these other important recreation guidelines:

  • Stay home if you are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Only recreate with members of your own household. 
  • Always bring a face covering. Wear it when you can’t maintain 6 feet of physical distance. 
  • Keep the space in open space! Always stay at least 6 feet from non-household visitors.
  • Visit OSMPTrails.org to see current trail closures, historical data that shows areas of high and low open space use and trails that are wider than 6 feet. See when trails are busiest through our Visitation Data Explorer.
  • Protect first responders. Know your limits and don’t take unnecessary risks.

Stay-up-to-date

  • Visit OSMPTrails.org to see suggest one-way/direction travel for popular trails, historic data that shows areas of high and low open space use and trails that are wider than 6 feet. See when trails are busiest through our Visitation Data Explorer
  • Text "OSMP" to 888-777 to receive important open space updates.
  • Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Remember these important responsible recreation guidelines

Plan your visit

  • Follow public health orders and protect each other. Do not go into public if you are sick. Do not recreate if a member of your household is sick.
  • View trails that are wider than 6 feet, areas that see high and low visitation through and suggested one-way travel areas through OSMP's interactive trails map .  
  • Plan ahead and consider recreating closer to home as parking is extremely limited – especially on Flagstaff Mountain. 
  • Aim to stay close to home and choose times and places where you can maintain 6 feet of physical distance between yourself and others.
  • When planning open space visits, remember to always bring a face covering.
  • If you are engaging in outdoor activities with people outside your household, limit group size to 10 or fewer, and make sure there is at least 6 feet of physical distance between all people at all times. 
  • Know your limits! Protect open space rangers, police officers, firefighters, medical personnel and parks maintenance staff. 

Remember these tips when you visit

  • Follow all open space rules and public health orders. Don’t take any unnecessary risks! 
  • Keep the space in open space and our parks. Stay more than 6 feet away from anyone not in your household. Limit gatherings. 
  • Protect vulnerable community members. If you’re older than 12, wear it if you can’t maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Stay on open space trails and walk through mud but step off the trail to let others pass. 
  • Announce yourself when passing others from behind. 
  • Remove your trash and pick up after your dog. Due to increased visitation, leashes are encouraged in Voice and Sight areas. 
  • People should not gather in any outdoor space where they cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance from one another. 
  • Use hand sanitizers. Cover coughs and sneezes into your elbows. Don't shake hands.

Current closures, cancellations and online permit programs

  • OSMP Hub at 2520 55th Street is closed. Most in-person services can be completed online. 
  • Picnic tables and shelters across the Open Space and Mountain Parks system are closed. The Sunrise Amphitheater is also closed.
  • OSMP's Ranger Cottage and the Flagstaff Nature Center are currently closed.
  • OSMP public programs, including in person Voice and Sight Tag Program education classes, nature hikes and education programs are currently canceled. Sign up for program communications at NatureHikes.org. The Voice and Sight Education Course is now available online. Visit VoiceandSight.org to learn more and to complete the education requirement
  • One-day group volunteer events and projects have begun, visit VolunteerOSMP.org for registration.
  • Facilities and group picnic tables on OSMP are currently closed through July 9 . If you are engaging in outdoor activities with people outside your household, limit group size to 10 or fewer, and make sure there is at least 6 feet of physical distance between all people at all times.

OSMP permits can be obtained online:

Learn more about OSMP's permit programs.


Visit our interactive trail map to help plan your visit

Our shared open space helps to make Boulder, Boulder. Learn more about what the city has been doing to manage open space during this time. 
 

Responding in March 2020

Beginning on March 13, 2020, OSMP implemented several closures and cancellations: 

  • The OSMP Hub at 2520 55th was closed.
  • The Ranger Cottage was closed. 
  • All OSMP public programs, including Voice and Sight Tag Program education classes, nature hikes and education programs were canceled.
  • One-day group volunteer events and projects were canceled.
  • OSMP was not issuing new special-use permits for large groups on city-managed open space. It also advised that bookings of OSMP facilities for weddings and other events may be subject to change.

OSMP is not currently issuing new special-use permits for large groups on city-managed open space. It also advises that bookings of OSMP facilities for weddings and other events may be subject to change.

Colorado’s Stay-At-Home Order listed outdoor activities – such as walking, hiking and biking – as essential activities if people maintain 6 feet of social distance and follow hygiene practices. Under that public health order and following City Council guidance, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) remained open. Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Larimer County Open Space, Jefferson County Open Space also remained open. All these land agencies closed picnic areas, shelters and nature centers. In addition, OSMP closed select areas on Flagstaff where large group gatherings were taking place. 

Coordinating with regional open space agencies on potential closures 

OSMP is coordinating management strategies with regional partners who are experiencing similar issues, sharing actions that all the different agencies are piloting so that strategies that work well can be applied to other areas. The department is also working with Boulder, Larimer and Jefferson counties to coordinate potential trail and trailhead access changes to avoid one agency inadvertently affecting another. A decision by one agency to partially or fully close would likely increase visitation to other open space areas and neighborhoods.

Partnering with city and county partners to address parking issues 

Open Space and Mountain Parks is partnering with the city’s Community Vitality Department and OSMP’s county partners to increase parking enforcement in popular areas. OSMP is aware that with increasing visitation across many open space areas, any future closing of trailhead and parking areas could inadvertently disperse parking to already crowded neighborhood areas. Therefore, any trailhead and/or parking closures will need to consider and account for this carefully.

Increasing community-wide communications to encourage responsible recreation 

OSMP has been working with City of Boulder’s Communications and Parks and Recreation departments – along with regional open space agencies and community groups – to remind open space and park visitors of important responsible recreation guidelines. City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, City of Boulder Parks and Recreation, Boulder County Parks and Open Space and Jefferson County Parks and Open Space also have worked together to distribute a wide range of responsible recreation reminders for visitors to follow when visiting the outdoors. OSMP would like to thank all of its community partners for sharing its responsible recreation guidelines with the community!

Deploying additional signs and staff to remind visitors of important visitation guidelines

In order to help protect the public, OSMP has deployed six road variable message boards at popular locations to remind visitors to practice physical distancing and wear face coverings. These boards are located north and south of Boulder and near Chautauqua Park, Mount Sanitas and Wonderland Lake. The department has also installed large signs at 24 trailheads across the system.

Currently, OSMP Rangers are prioritizing responding to emergency situations. They are focusing on providing education and giving warnings, but they will issue citations when necessary. The department continues to monitor federal, state and local public health orders and will take their guidance.

Beyond education efforts currently being provided by Rangers, OSMP has increased the number of education and outreach staff at busier trailheads and popular trails. They are helping to communicate important public health guidance to open space visitors. In addition to the many visitor contacts made by Rangers, OSMP education and outreach staff have completed at least hundreds of hours of education and outreach and have contacted thousands of people. They have been focused on educating visitors about 6 feet of social distancing and have been reminding visitors to wear face coverings. They're supporting one-way (directional trail) travel that the department instituted south of Boulder. 

Improving interactive maps to help increase physical distance and disperse visitation

OSMP has updated its interactive trails map with several new features, including:

  • Suggested one-way travel along popular trails.
  • Historic data that shows areas of high and low use.
  • OSMP trails that are wider than 6 feet.

Developing and instituting management actions 

OSMP has instituted suggested one-way travel along several popular trails to help visitors maintain physical distance. Trails include Flatirons Vista North/South, South Boulder Creek, Springbook Loop, Eagle and Sage. View suggested one-way travel areas on OSMP’s interactive trails map.

In an effort to reduce the number of surfaces visitors and staff have to touch to navigate our system, OSMP trails staff has opened the majority of interior and exterior gates on our designated trails. We are asking staff and the public to leave gates as they found them; if they are closed – as they normally are – they are remaining closed for agricultural purposes.