For the first time in its history, Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services has achieved national accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). Only 10 parks and recreation agencies in Colorado are accredited and only 186, out of approximately 23,000 agencies throughout the country, have achieved the accreditation. More than two years in the making, the department had to demonstrate compliance with 151 recognized standards and document all policies and procedures. The parks department joins the city police and fire departments and regional Office of Emergency Management as having achieved accreditation in their respective fields.  

“Our department consistently strives for excellence in our service to the community,” said Karen Palus, Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director, in a written statement. “Achieving national accreditation validates that our work is conducted at the highest standards and abides by the best practices established by CAPRA."

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Friday, Oct. 30, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with other dignitaries, formally opened Fishers Peak State Park, near Trinidad. The park, which opened to the public at 3 p.m. on Friday, has limited recreational opportunities for the time being. The park has a 92-car parking lot, a restroom facility, a scenic picnic area, an easy 3/4-mile trail, a more difficult 1.5-mile trail that follows an old ranch road and the beginnings of a newly constructed trail. As I wrote in a previous column about Fishers Peak, this limited opening is a bit different from how CPW has developed and opened parks in the past. Instead of having the public wait until a park is completely developed  a process that can take several years  CPW is opening the park in phases, as new construction and amenities are built. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (second from right) flanked by state Sen. Leroy Garcia and state Rep. Daneya Esgar, along with other dignitaries, cu…

At the event, Polis also signed an executive order creating a "Colorado Outdoor Partnership" program, a regional cooperative system where state, federal and local land managers would work cooperatively along with businesses and nonprofit groups to create outdoor recreation opportunities.  The process would emphasize cooperation between groups with the goal of minimizing conflicts between groups as new recreation opportunities are created. If this sounds familiar, it is much like the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, which has been doing somewhat similar work in the Pikes Peak region for a few years.

Colorado Department of Transportation Director Shoshana Lew was on-hand to announce an $11 million improvement project to Exit 11 on Interstate-25, the nearest exit to the new park. The improvement project will include roundabouts on both sides of the highway, along with other improvements to handle multiple modes of transportation and increased traffic.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife director Dan Prenzlow announced that CPW will be starting a "Nominate Colorado's Next State Park" program that will enable the public to nominate lands for consideration to become future Colorado State Parks. More information is available from the CPW website

Trinidad State Junior College President Rhonda Epper announced at the event the creation of an Associates Degree program in trail and park development, that will use Fishers Peak as its training area.

While recreation opportunities will be somewhat limited at Fishers Peak until sometime next summer, Colorado's newest state park will continue to develop more trails and amenities over the next couple of years, said park manager Crystal Dreiling.

How To Get There: From southbound I-25, get off at Exit 11 and then turn east and cross over I-25. Go just past the northbound off-ramp and turn right onto the service road and follow it for approximately 1.5 miles south to the Fishers Peak Trailhead entrance.

Things You Need To Know:  Entry fees do apply. There is an automated kiosk at the parking lot to purchase a daily park pass. There are two restroom facilities and parking for 92 cars at the trailhead, however water is not available. Picnic tables, with a view of Fishers Peak itself, are located around the parking lot.  Park hours are sunrise to sunset, all year. At this time the park is open to foot traffic only. No bikes, horses, camping, or dogs are allowed.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Explore.

Follow Hiking Bob on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

Follow Hiking Bob on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.