Hiking with a group of buddies or with my family is always one of my favorite things to do in my free time. Climbing mountains, exploring canyons or reaching waterfalls are all amazing experiences but the obligations of everyday life often make it difficult to get away for these weekend trips. Add in the inconvenience of the Colorado floods washing out the highway to Rocky Mountain National Park, my go to weekend day trip, and I've got plenty of excuses to curl up on the couch and watch football.
But that's not who I am. I need to be outside. I want my kids to get fresh air, exercise and to experience new things. Tired of conquering the same old trails near my home and not willing to put in the extra drive time to get further away, I bought my local county parks pass for the first time.
Can you believe I've been missing out on hiking to the top of Horsetooth Rock and playing in the water at Horsetooth Falls because of the required $6 to park a car at the trailhead? I used to avoid this area because there were many other areas nearby that didn't require a fee. But after 8 years of living outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, I finally splurged and bought the Larimer County Parks Pass.
Now that I have the pass I visit various parks regularly. I've hiked at Carter Lake with my family, climbed Horsetooth Rock multiple times after work and walked out to the waterfall with friends. The kids have enjoyed playing in the creeks with their friends, I've forced my wife to scramble up a rock that made her nervous and we've more than gotten every dollars worth out of our tiny investment into a county parks pass.
What was I thinking? I probably spent more money on gas driving to places further away than the cost of buying the pass.
I'm a huge fan of the convenience of excellent hiking trails that are properly maintained close to my home. And I'm willing to support that for a couple of bucks every time I need a day away.
Weird. I've religiously bought a National Parks Pass every year and passed up my local county parks pass. What a mistake. Now that I know, I'll buy a county parks pass every time it expires.
Hmmmm. Time to look into the State Parks Pass. Who knows what else I'm missing out on.
Have you had a similar experience where you've passed up a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors over a tiny investment? Are you a parks pass holder?
A New Favorite Place to Hike
By Andy Hawbaker
November 12, 2013
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