Colin Gaughan loves spending most of his waking hours on a river. But there’s a step before getting to his favorite waterways that the avid fisherman and river restoration worker has never enjoyed: trekking to Walmart or a local fishing shop to purchase an annual license to legally trawl for massive catches. “[It] can feel like it takes forever,” he says.

Lucky for adventurers across the state, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) launched the My CPW app this week, which allows people to purchase hunting and fishing licenses (both day and annual passes), as well as state park passes directly from a phone.

“It’s an opportunity for Parks and Wildlife to move into that arena of service folks have become used to in terms of showing their identification,” Travis Duncan, the public information supervisor for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says. “Like concert tickets, for example, we are trying to meet people where they’re at with the kind of technology they’re using.”

Both Colorado residents and nonresidents can purchase certification through My CPW. The app allows customers to show proof of purchase on their phone, undercutting the possibility of forgetting a physical paper license and getting a citation from a wildlife officer.

“My dad and I have been out fishing before when he didn’t have his [physical] license and he got ticketed,” Gaughan says. “But he had his license. [The app] will be way more convenient.”

If you still purchase a physical license, your information will be saved to a database accessible through My CPW. Non-vehicle park passes, such as individual and dog off-leash passes, are also available on the app. Hunting licenses that require a carcass tag, which is needed for big-game and turkey hunting, still need to be purchased in person.

Duncan says CPW is looking to expand the new technology to include licenses for off-highway vehicles and snowmobile and boat registration, along with interactive maps and weather alerts. The organization does not have a timeline yet for unveiling the upcoming features.

Sales from licenses, vehicle registration, and park passes make up most of CPW’s funding. “I’m not sure that we’re expecting a huge increase in sales or a huge decrease in citations,” Duncan says. “but we definitely think it will be appreciated by those who like the option of purchasing and displaying their license with a smartphone.”

(Read more: How Denver Anglers Got Hooked on Carp

Fiona Murphy
Fiona Murphy
Fiona writes and produces multimedia stories for, as well as oversees social media strategy for 5280’s and 5280 Home’s accounts.