The rules of exploring our backyard


Caroline Sears

Signs warn hikers to distance themselves from others on the trail.

Caroline Sears, Activities Beat Director

As Coloradoans, we have the gift of nature. Everywhere you look, there is another trail to find or path to create. We are surrounded by wide-open spaces and a beautiful mountain range. And when we need an escape from the stress of the modern world, all we have to do is step into our backyard. 

However, amidst all the chaos surrounding us, getting a breath of fresh air is more important than ever. The coronavirus has shut down school districts, and entire cities and states are in lockdown. The government’s plan to slow the spread of the virus is to social distance, but what does that mean for Coloradoans looking to get outside?

Due to heavy foot traffic, Rocky Mountain National Park has been closed until further notice as of March 20. Tourist attractions all around the country, especially in New York City, have been closed. Yosemite National Park followed Colorado’s closures. So far, out of the 62 national parks, the 10 most visited have closed their gates. However, President Donald Trump and his administration have waived all entrance fees for the parks that remain open, says Suzanne Rowan Kelleher from Forbes. These conflicting messages have only led to confusion in the public.

Caroline Sears
Usually, we are able to explore Rocky Mountain National Park freely, but the stay-at-home order set new rules prohibiting this.

As Governor Polis’ stay at home order remains in effect, he has established “Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, biking or running while maintaining social distance” as essential tasks, says Audra Streetman with CBS4.

Despite Rocky Mountain National Park’s closure, there is plenty of space all around our beautiful city. In Fort Collins alone, we have access to 49 natural areas and countless acres of outdoor escape. So if you start to catch a case of cabin fever, take a break to explore outside. After all, spending time in the fresh air can improve mental health as a whole, from anxiety to depression and decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. In the next few months, however stressful as they may be, try to take advantage of our beautiful surroundings—always maintaining a 6-foot distance from others doing the same.