A teepee at Ridgway State Park stands in front of the majestic San Juan Mountain Range.

By Wayne Crick

Sports editor

In a statement from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife from spokesman Joe Lewandowski in Durango, the public is invited to take advantage of some beautiful spring weather and visit beautiful Ridgway State Park in Ridgway.

After being in the recent stay-at-home mandate, people are ready to be someplace other than their homes. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife sees the outdoors as the perfect place for exercise and fresh air where there are opportunities for hiking, picnicking, boating and biking. The staff at Ridgway State Park believe they have the perfect spot for those opportunities.

Unfortunately, there is sentiment among some that our state parks are opening their gates without fees. That is not the case as “Parks must continue to have income to pay for staff, maintenance, cleaning, access and patrols. Colorado State Parks do not receive general tax funds and we depend on user fees to operate,” stated Ridgway State Park manager Kirstin Copeland.

The many picnic areas are within easy access to hiking, boating and biking. The daily price to enter the park at Ridgway is $9 per vehicle. Those wishing to purchase an annual pass may do so for $80 ($70 for seniors 64 and older). Payments for the park’s use may be made at stations located at park entrances. Credit cards, checks and cash are accepted. Annual passes may be purchased through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at cpwshop.com.

Ridgway State Park, located 20 miles south of Montrose, is open for day-use activities. Campgrounds and kids’ play areas are closed. Paddleboarders are reminded they must wear a PFD or have one on the board.

There are measures in place for the current COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing is a major priority with visitors asked to stay at least 6 feet away from other visitors and wear protective masks if in a group. While hiking, give approaching hikers plenty of room to pass, and it is recommended that people carry hand sanitizers.

Visitors bringing boats into the park should stay in their vehicles while inspectors come to you to collect information. To have your boat decontaminated, please call in advance to make an appointment ahead of time to insure boaters are getting on the water sooner. Respect the work of inspectors and maintain an appropriate distance while they complete their tasks.

Note the visitors’ center office is closed to the public. For information, call the park at 970-626-5822.

Of course, there are a multitude of opportunities for exercise in and around Delta and the adjoining communities. The same rules of social distancing apply everywhere, and it’s a matter of adhering to them.

Delta’s Confluence Park also offers picnicking, boating, hiking and biking for those so inclined. Public trails thread through a portion of Delta’s residential sections with accommodations for both hikers and bikers. There are a few areas, like Tamarac Park off Bluff Street where disc golfers can get in a round or two when the weather is cooperative. For bikers of all ages, there are a few adobe hills close by which have evidence of constant use.

Though the fishing may not be as serene as found at Ridgway State Park or Crawford Reservoir, the opportunity to wet a line has been evident the past few weeks along the banks of Confluence Lake and the Gunnison River.

Tennis and pickleball enthusiasts are using the tennis courts at Bill Heddles Recreation Center, and people with picnic lunches have taken advantage of a number of picnic tables in parks and around Confluence Lake.

Families have found ways to entertain themselves by playing card games and outdoor games such as corn hole, basketball, whiffle ball, soccer and some games unique to just one family.

Sometimes, a drive in the countryside is a soothing interlude to take one’s mind away from a difficult time.

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