Rules & Regulations
The following regulations are in effect on the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) for the enjoyment and protection of this unique resource. Please take the time to read posted regulations at each trailhead as they vary by area. You are responsible for knowing and obeying all OSMP regulations. Violations may result in summons and/or fines. Rangers patrol OSMP land. For further information please contact the City of Boulder OSMP Department, at 303-441-3440. In case of an emergency, call 911.
The following activities are prohibited unless in designated areas: biking, sledding, paragliding, hang gliding. Hang gliding and paragliding are allowed at a launch site near Wonderland Lake Trailhead.
State law prohibits the consumption of alcohol greater than 3.2 percent in any public space. For a group over 14 people you will need an Alcohol Permit. Glass containers are prohibited on Open Space and Mountain Parks. Marijuana consumption is prohibited in public. City ordinance prohibits smoking on OSMP (including the use of electronic smoking devices).
Biking is allowed on designated, multi-use trails. Bikes must remain on-trail.
Camping is prohibited on Open Space and Mountain Parks. Tents, nets, and other structures are prohibited.
There is one exception; camping is allowed at the small Buckingham Campground at Fourth of July Trailhead, located in the mountains about one hour west of Boulder.
Competitive events are prohibited on Open Space and Mountain Parks. A competitive event meaning any event or activity in which four or more persons try to exceed the performance of each other or another person in a physical activity, as stated in B.R.C. Chapter 8-8-10.
OSMP parking lots are closed to vehicles between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. with the exception of parking areas on Flagstaff Mountain, which are closed 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. and Chapman Drive Trailhead which is closed dusk to dawn.
Collecting, removing, destroying or defacing any natural or man-made object is not permitted; this includes picking wildflowers.
The specific dog regulation is posted at each trail/trailhead. All dogs must be leashed unless the dog guardian and the dog are registered in the Voice & Sight (V&S) Tag Program and on a trail that allows Voice & Sight control. All dogs walked off leash must display a City of Boulder V&S Control Evidence Tag and current rabies tags.
Voice & Sight Control means a dog guardian or keeper must be able to prevent his/her dog from engaging in the following behaviors, regardless of the circumstances or distractions:
- Charging, chasing, or displaying aggression toward any person.
- Charging, chasing, or displaying aggression toward any dog.
- Chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife or livestock.
- Failing to come to and stay with the guardian or keeper immediately upon command by dog guardian.
Dog guardians must immediately remove and dispose of their pet's excrement. Leaving bags with dog waste on or near the trail (even temporarily) is a violation of regulation. Please see the Dogs on OSMP page for details on dog regulations and voice and sight control.
Operating unmanned motorized vehicles including any drone, unmanned motorized boat, plane, helicopter, hovercraft is prohibited. Flying gliders is only allowed in designated areas pursuant to B.R.C. 8-8-4 Model Glider Flying: No person shall fly a model glider upon open space and mountain parks properties unless permitted by signs posted in designated areas.
Model glider flying is allowed on OSMP's Church Property , access is located on the east side of Cherryvale Rd and one-half mile south of US 36. Some aircraft activity is permitted on NCAR property. Please contact NCAR at 303-497-1000 for their regulations.
View more information on drone regulations from the City of Boulder.
Fires are prohibited except in Open Space and Mountain Parks provided grills. Grills are located only in the immediate area around Flagstaff Mountain. Fires are prohibited between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Fires must be extinguished completely prior to leaving the area. During times of extreme fire danger, fire bans may be instituted.
Possession or discharge of fireworks, firecrackers, skyrockets, including model rockets, is prohibited.
State fishing regulations apply where fishing is allowed.
OSMP allows off-trail "virtual" geocaching (with no cache or treasure) in all areas where off-trail travel is allowed. View OSMP's Geocaching Policy .
Glass containers are prohibited on Open Space and Mountain Parks.
OSMP leases areas that are suitable for grazing to lessees through a formal agreement. Grazing is one strategy used to promote the department's environmental objectives, such as the control of weeds without the use of chemicals, or to restore native grasslands. Grazing of domestic animals, commercial livestock operations and livery operations are prohibited without a permit.
Horses are permitted on all trails unless specifically prohibited.
Launching or landing of hot air balloons is prohibited.
Littering is prohibited. Trash receptacles provided for visitor use only. Dumping of residential or other trash generated elsewhere is prohibited.
Vehicles must stay on designated roadways. Parking in designated areas only during hours posted.
You must apply for and obtain an off-trail permit if you plan to travel off of a designated trail in a Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) prior to your trip. Several trails not in HCAs may also require visitors to stay on trail or require specific activities to stay on trail. Nighttime use (one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise) of HCAs is discouraged.
Hitting golf balls, polluting the water, swimming, defacing property, placing of tents, nets and/or structures, gas powered engines, or model rocket, and disturbing the peace are prohibited.
Parking fees are required at certain trailheads for vehicles not registered in Boulder County. Please see OSMP Parking Permits and Fees for details.
Permits are required for:
- Commercial Use: Any activity on OSMP for which there is a fee, charge or purchase of goods or services.
- Filming: Most filming projects on OSMP lands require a commercial use permit. You may request an exemption from the commercial use permit requirement if you are working on a student project or something similar.
- Off-Trail: Any activity off of a designated trail in a Habitat Conservation Area.
- Research: Any research project.
- Special Use: Any event with the potential for 25 or more participants.
- Shelter & Facility Rentals: OSMP facilities may be rented in advance for weddings, picnics, parties or other events.
Visitors may free-heel ski (cross country and Telemark) on OSMP trails. Visitors are not permitted to ski or snowboard with fixed heels on OSMP.
When free-heel skiing on OSMP, visitors should:
- Respect sensitive habitats that may be closed to safeguard wildlife.
- Avoid impact to plants, animals and natural features.
- Be considerate and safety conscious of other visitors.
When doing extreme sports, please remember that you may be putting emergency staff and volunteers at risk if a rescue is needed.
Area closures are sometimes used to protect nesting raptors, some breeding species of bats and when bears or mountain lions are temporarily present in an area. Human disturbance may cause these animals to abandon their eggs or young. Under some circumstances large animals may present an inadvertent threat to humans. Some parts of Open Space and Mountain Parks are seasonally closed to all users to protect wildlife.
Trail closures occur for a variety of reasons such as, planned or emergency maintenance, and trail construction.
Entering closed areas or entering/climbing on buildings is prohibited. Entering a closed area is Trespass on Public Property.
Possession or discharge of a firearm (including paint ball guns) or projectile weapon (bows, crossbows, slingshots, etc.) including those powered by gas, is prohibited on OSMP.
It is unlawful for any person to hunt, trap, net, damage or destroy any wildlife, den or nest or to harass any wildlife or livestock. Seasonal and temporary access restrictions may be in effect to protect wildlife. It is unlawful to feed wildlife.
All trail users on OSMP property are required to yield to other trail users in the following manner:
- All users yield to equestrians;
- bicyclists yield to pedestrians, and bicyclists headed downhill yield to bicyclists headed uphill.
Yielding the right of way requires slowing down to a safe speed, being prepared to stop, establishing communication, and passing safely.