Travel: Free Passes to Colorado State Parks

July 24 2012, 3:00 PM

You’d expect Coloradoans to get outside a lot, and some of us do. We head up to the mountains on the weekends, or log our daily runs on neighborhood paths. But all too often, washing the car or sanding the deck hijacks our hiking plans—and that’s a habit The North Face is trying to change by handing out free State Park passes and other goodies designed to get us outdoors a little more.

This summer, The North Face is expanding its “Explore Your Parks” program by adding State Parks to the mix. The idea is that busy people (or outdoor newbies) are more likely to make it to parks located within a fast, easy drive from home. So The North Face is dangling a nice carrot for Denverites: It’s providing free passes to seven Front Range state parks.

You claim them by cruising into participating retailers that sell The North Face. Jax Outdoor Gear, Colorado Ski & Golf, and The North Face’s own stores in Denver and Boulder. Then, venture forth to Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Golden Gate Canyon State Park in Golden, Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, Lory State Park in Bellvue, Eldorado Canyon State Park in Eldorado Springs, Castlewood Canyon State Park in Franktown, or Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area in Salida.

You can also pick up an activity guide to help you prepare for your park visit. The guide's advice is aimed at never-evers, but the info includes helpful direction that outdoor experts tend to take for granted—like the importance of letting someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back. The guide also describes each park’s facilities and how to make campsite reservations.

The North Face has an obvious incentive for making Coloradoans (and all Americans—Explore Your Parks is a nationwide program) more outdoorsy. After all, it sells tents, sleeping bags, and outdoor performance apparel, so getting more people outside means more sales for The North Face. But it’s a win-win situation, since evidence confirms that people grow happier and healthier with more time out of doors. And even if you’re a state park devotee who doesn’t need any hand-holding, free is free—so grab some passes and get hiking, paddling, biking, or climbing on the company’s dime.