Starting Jan. 1, vehicle plate renewals include a $29 state parks pass

Do you want to spend $29 in 2023 for an annual pass that will grant you entry into Colorado’s 42 state parks? Starting on Jan. 1, you’ll have to decide, one way or the other, before you can renew your vehicle registration.

The $29 charge for a Keep Colorado Wild pass will be added to every renewal along with the usual vehicle registration fees. Car owners can choose to pay it or opt out.

If they opt out, they can subtract that $29 from the bill. If they accept, they get a vehicle registration card showing the $29 was paid. That registration card then becomes their ticket into state parks for the 12 months while that registration is valid. Because it’s tied to motor vehicle registration, park entry applies only to that vehicle.

The program will result in a substantial savings for folks who have been purchasing annual parks passes, which cost $80 in 2022.

But for less frequent park visitors, it will take three to four visits to pay off. Daily passes currently run $9 at most state parks. Nine parks, including Chatfield, Boyd Lake, Eldorado, Golden Gate, Roxborough and Staunton, charge $10. Cherry Creek charges $11. By comparison, entry to Colorado’s four national parks runs $25-$30 per day.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say they expect to generate revenue from the Keep Colorado Wild pass that will be used to protect wildlife habitats and help the system keep up with increased visitation pressures and “improve visitation systems at existing state parks which may include shuttle services, timed-entry reservations or other tools yet to be determined.” Some revenue will be used to fund search and rescue teams and avalanche safety programs.

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