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Check Out Colorado State Parks FAQs


Q: What organizations are participating in this program?

A: All of Colorado’s public, military, and publicly funded academic libraries, the Colorado Talking Book Library, the History Colorado Library, the Colorado State Publications Library, and all 42 Colorado state parks.

Q: My library is not included in the program; how can we participate?

A: The program is currently set for 2024. If you are interested in participating, please let us know and program planners will assess the program and consider additional requests for participation.

Q: This is a very popular program at our library! Our patrons have long wait times for the backpacks. Can our library purchase additional backpacks and passes?

A: At this time, Check Out Colorado State Parks is providing 1 or 2 backpacks with passes to each participating library location. One goal of the program is to allow people to try out a state park, perhaps visiting it for the first time, and have such a great experience that they’ll want to return and purchase a park pass, so that the pass they check out of the library provides a ‘try it before you buy it’ opportunity.

Q: As this program is so popular at our library, some of our patrons complain at the long waiting times. What can we tell them?

A: You can let them know that the day-use entrance fee into any of the state parks is just $9-10, depending on the park. This fee permits one vehicle and its passengers into that state park for the day. Parks with visitor centers also have adventure backpacks that they loan out, so your patrons may consider visiting this way rather than waiting for the library pass.

Q: How are other libraries choosing to implement and promote the program?

A: The CheckOutColorado program listserv is a great way to ask questions and start discussions with library staff from across the state about the program.

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Q: How long is the circulation period for the backpacks/passes?

A: 1 week (up to 7 days).

Q: Can we, or do we have to, allow holds on the backpacks?

A: Your library can decide whether or not to allow holds. Currently, some do and others don’t, with some libraries offering one backpack for holds and the other as a “Lucky Day,” first-come, first-served item.

Q: Can we charge an overdue fine if a backpack isn’t returned on time? If so, how much?

A: Yes. Your library may charge overdue fines per your library’s policy.

Q: May we charge our patrons for replacement costs of lost or damaged items?

A: Yes. Costs and sources for the original items are denoted on the Backpack and Pass Replacement Guide (PDF). Although there’s no need to replace the binoculars with the exact models, we recommend choosing items of similar quality.

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Q: May our library add a barcode and/or our library name, logo, and/or address to the backpack?

A: Yes. The materials are part of your permanent collection and we encourage you to process them for tracking however best works for you locally.

Q: Is a cataloging record available?

A: Yes. Please see the MARC record for the backpacks (PDF). For those libraries that use Prospector, see OCLC #922336142, or the Prospector record for the backpacks (PDF). To edit these files for your specific local catalog, we recommend using the open source tool MARCedit. For questions about using MARCedit, please contact Virginia Inness at 

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Backpack Contents

Q: Is our library required to have the backpack? Can we just use the plastic pouches instead?

A: It is our hope that you maintain the program as designed which includes the backpack. However, all libraries have different needs and abilities. As of Spring 2020 when COVID spreading concerns shifted the processing and cleaning practices of many libraries, some of our libraries have chosen to not utilize the backpack. 

Additionally, binoculars are a part of the field exploration kit provided by the state library and parks office. If you can circulate your binoculars and your materials without a backpack, you are free to do so. However, if you would like a backpack to safely and easily store and circulate both the binoculars and pouch, then please request one from 

Q: Binoculars are a part of the kit?! I didn't know that! We don't have binoculars anymore. Can I request them?

A: Binoculars are available in limited quantity for replacement. Please see the Backpack and Pass Replacement Guide (PDF) for information on how to obtain a replacement pair. 

Q: May our library add additional materials to the backpack?

A: Yes. You’ll just need to adjust the MARC cataloging record accordingly and track those items as part of the check in/out process.

Q: What if an item in the backpack—or the entire backpack—gets damaged or lost?

A: Please see the Backpack and Pass Replacement Guide (PDF) to find out how to replace a lost state parks pass. Your library is responsible for replacing binoculars and lost items (though the paper-based items, backpacks, and plastic pouches are supplied free of charge while supplies last).

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State Parks Pass and General Park Information

Q: What exactly does the pass allow?

A: The pass included in the backpack allows one vehicle and its passengers into any of Colorado’s 42 state parks. As the checkout period is 7 days, a patron can use it in one park for a one-week/weekend camping trip in one state park, for instance, or could visit several state parks over the course of the week.

Q: Can more than one car come in on a pass?

A: No. 

Q: Can a bus come in on the pass?

A: Not a commercial tour bus, but some parks will allow an activity, school or senior program bus in on the pass. The patron should call the park to make sure before they head to the park.

Q: Can the pass be used to get into national parks?

A: No. The pass is valid only at the 42 Colorado state parks. This is a source of confusion for many people so it’s good to mention to patrons.

Q: Does the pass cover fishing licenses or camping fees?

A: Fishing licenses and camping fees are not included with the pass; people need to pay for those on their own.

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Q: How can we promote the program?

A: Each library building will receive a display with a flyer and park brochures that can be added to a table top in a prominent location. In addition, here are just a few of the many possibilities for promotion:

  • Connect with a local state park ranger to cross-promote this and other programs
  • Create an eye catching display in your library
  • Hang up posters around your community; there are several options of sizes and one option that is customizable available in the Check Out Colorado State Parks Toolkit.
  • Send a press release to your local media
  • Do a TV, radio, and/or newspaper interview about it
  • Get the word out on your library’s social media and website; find some sample social media blurbs.
  • Include the program in your library events calendar/newsletter
  • Tell your friends and patrons! Word of mouth advertising can be very effective!

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Q: How can we contact the state parks to collaborate?

A: Find a state park on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Park Finder page and map. Once you find your state park's page, look to the lefthand side bar for the contact info for that park. Additionally, you may find your area's CPW education coordinator and contact them. 

Note: For personnel's personal safety, the state library and the state parks no longer list the individual park manager or staff contact information on public-facing sites. Please contact the local park for the park manager or education liaison's name. 

Q: What’s the best way to start a partnership with a nearby park?

A: Find your local park's webpage. Contact the park manager and arrange to meet him/her at the park and see what facilities and programs are available there. Likewise, invite the manager to your library for a tour. During both meetings, discuss how you can collaborate to make the most of the Check Out Colorado State Parks program.

Q: What are some ways we can collaborate with our local state park?

A: There are many possibilities! Here are a few:

  • Stay aware of upcoming programs at your nearby park(s)
  • Cross-promote each other’s facilities and programs
  • Use the program for a summer library program tie-in
  • Work with a nearby state park to create a StoryWalk in the park
  • Work with a nearby state park to create and post a Little Free Library at the park visitor center or campground
  • Provide regular or occasional storytimes or other library programs at the park
  • Ask a park ranger to provide a program at the library, and offer to a do a storytime or other library program at the park

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Q: How will the program be evaluated?

A: Feedback from your patrons using the program is key for evaluating the program. There are evaluation forms located in each backpack; please print more evaluation forms (PDF) in color or black and white as needed to replace in the backpack. Please collect the forms and return via courier to Cristy Moran at c912 or via email at as scanned PDFs. We will send quarterly reminders over the CheckOutColorado listserv. There is also an online version of the evaluation available. We also welcome feedback from library staff on the program at any time. 

Q: Our patrons often don’t return the completed forms. How can we help improve the response rate?

A: When patrons return the backpack, encourage them at that time to take just a few moments to complete the survey, indicating that their input is really important to sustain the program. You may also bookmark the link to the online version of the evaluation and ask borrowers to fill it out when they return their items.

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General Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Information

Q: What state park passes are available for purchase?

A:. The most common passes are:

  • The Day pass ($9- $10) available at the park gate; and,
  • The Annual pass ($80) available online or at the park gate and good for 365 days from the date of purchase in all 42 state parks. Also, there is a poster of all the park passes available on the Toolkit.

Q: How does a patron reserve a state park campsite?

A: State Park campsites can be reserved from 6 months in advance through 3 days prior to arrival. Campsite reservations can be made online or by phone 303-470-11-44 in the Denver metro area and 1-800-678-CAMP (2267) Toll free. Campsites not reserved are available on a first come, first served basis.

Q: Where do we send patrons to buy a fishing license?

A: Fishing licenses can be purchased:

  • In Person: CPW has 750 licensed agents across the state, including the 42 state park offices and 16 customer service centers listed in the fishing regulations.
  • Online: Purchase fishing licenses online
  • By phone: 1-800-244-5613

Q: How many hiking trails are in the parks?

A: There are over 700 miles of maintained trails in the state parks. Trail maps are available on the CPW website and in the parks.

Q: Where do we find information on the individual parks?

A: The 52-page brochure in the backpack (Your Guide to Colorado’s State Parks) is an excellent resource and there is a detailed facilities and recreation chart in the back of that brochure. Online, the CPW Park Finder lists the park activities by park and can sort by interests to find which parks offer what you are interested in. Visit the CPW website to find their social media or CPW newsletters. 

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