JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Another popular hiking area in Colorado is dealing with traffic and congestion. Millions of people visit Jefferson County Open Space areas every year, and rangers have come up with a creative way to make the trip less stressful.
“I love being outside,” explained Kathy Break, who was out hiking at Mount Galbraith park on Tuesday to avoid the crowds. “I thought I would take a week off from work and see it on its less busy times.”
Ranger Mary Ann Bonnell told CBS4 because so many people love the trails, parking has become difficult. They are constantly finding people parking illegally, or in dangerous spots along busy highways when the lots are full.
Calvin Chang said it’s something he’s noticed several times while out exploring.
“Many times,” he said. “At those times I don’t really know what to do. Sometimes I have to leave and find another place or area to go hike in.”
To address the problem, Jeffco Open Space teamed up with Lot Spot to provide real-time parking data for visitors. Several of the most congested parks now have camera technology installed that counts the number of cars that enter or leave a lot. The information is then sent to a free phone app.
“That’s definitely something I would like to try,” Break said.
The idea is when you check the app, it will show the space availability. That can help people make better decisions on what time to go hike, or where.
“That would be very useful rather than making our way out here and figuring out its full,” Chang said.
Ranger Bonnell said in the future, this app will also allow them to have a better estimate of how many people visit their park and future designs or changes they may need to implement. She hopes the new technology will make exploring open space trails more enjoyable for all visitors.