The Forest Service has begun a process to charge hikers and backpackers $10 per person, per trip to hike and $20 to camp, in heavily used South Colony Basin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado. The is the first time Colorado has charged for climbing its fourteeners (with the exceptions of Culebra Peak which is privately owned and peaks such as Longs Peak which are in Rocky Mountain National Park and as such have an entrance fee). The group Western Slope No-Fee Coalition 500,000 people had been combing Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks a year for free.
The trailhead is is primary access to Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Humboldt Peak. About, 4500 people visit there each year.
Forest Service rationale for the fee:
Recently constructed summit trails and stabilized alpine slopes in South Colony Basin will require regular maintenance to protect the nearly $1,000,000 investment in these facilities and restoration treatments. Funding opportunities through private foundations for continued trail maintenance and slope restoration are very limited. Forest Service funding for trail maintenance has been “flat” for the past several years and is not expected to see major increases for the foreseeable future. The funding available for education and enforcement of backcountry etiquette and regulations has similarly been strained. Relying on recreation use fees appears to be the best option for providing future high quality backcountry experiences and protecting the natural environment.
Here’s the summitpost discussion.
Here’s the official San Carlos Ranger District Page with links to details.