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Colorado Parks & Wildlife to Require Hunting or Fishing License at River Access

Posted: 07/08/2020
by Kestrel Kunz

In an unexpected and strategic move by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a Colorado hunting or fishing license will now be required to access State Wildlife Areas and CPW-leased State Trust Lands (effective July 1, 2020). Many of these affected areas have historically been used for paddling, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and other non-consumptive recreation uses. CPW's press release stated that "This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties", and while we understand the need to increase revenue to support management of these areas, we have a few concerns with this strategy. Our concerns include that, 1) There will be no mechanism for tracking use at each area, 2) Revenue from licenses will not be used to support paddling and other non-consumptive uses at these areas, and 3) Access to federal public lands and community recreation areas will be further restricted, creating yet more barriers for socio-economically disadvantaged populations to recreate and enjoy the outdoors.


On July 1, American Whitewater, Colorado Mountain Club, and multiple other organizations submitted a joint letter to CPW Commissioners requesting that they reconsider the new Rule and find a more practicable and sustainable method for collecting fees for these areas. On July 17, Colorado Mountain Club is presenting our collective concerns to CPW Commissioners and we hope that CPW will consider alternative methods to addressing budget shortages. We have asked that CPW initiate a public review period to collect input from the community and if this request is approved, we will need the paddling community to activate on this important issue!


In the meantime, in order to avoid being hassled or ticketed at these areas (see below), don't forget to purchase a one-day or annual fishing or hunting license here. Licenses range from $13.90 for one-day fishing resident license to $97.97 for a non-resident annual fishing license.


We have identified over 20 river segments that use State Wildlife Areas (SWA) or CPW-leased State Trust Lands (STL) as primary access points. There are additional river segments that flow through SWAs and STLs, however you should be able to float through (as long as you don't stop to camp, picnic, etc.) without being required to have a license.


  • Arkansas River 
  • Granite to Numbers Launch; Granite SWA is used as put-in
  • Clear Creek to Numbers Launch; Granite SWA used an alternative put-in for the Pine Creek section or take out for Granite section so paddlers don't have to run the challenging Pine Creek rapid
  • Railroad Bridge to Buena Vista; Buena Vista SWA used as take-out 
  • Buena Vista Whitewater Park; Buena Vista SWA overlaps with access to the whitewater park, which primary purposes include whitewater kayaking, rafting, and river surfing
  • Buena Vista to Fisherman's Bridge; Buena Vista SWA also serves as the put-in for the BV Town section and the longer "milk run" segment 


  • Cache la Poudre River
  • Cherokee Park Rd. to Halligan Reservoir; Cherokee SWA overlaps with both the put-in and the takeout for this segment
  • Filter Plant to Picnic Rock Access; Poudre River STL is used as the put-in for this segment


  • Colorado River
  • Hot Sulphur Springs to Hwy 40 Bridge; Hot Sulphur Springs SWA serves as the take-out for this segment 
  • Palisade to Loma Launch; Loma Boat Launch SWA serves as the take-out for this segment 
  • Loma Launch to Westwater (Ruby-Horsethief); Loma Boat Launch SWA serves as the put-in for this segment. Ruby-Horsethief is one of the most popular Class 2 multi-day floats in the State and is used heavily by the non-angling community


  • Eagle River
  • Forest Service Visitor Center to River Run; Whiskey Creek STL is the takeout for this run, also known as the Dowd Chute. Access and parking developments are very limited and non-angling river users have been using this area for decades
  • River Run to Edward; Whiskey Creek STL is the put-in for this run, which provides a mellower floating opportunity and is historically used by commercial and non-commercial river users


  • Rio Grande River
  • Box Canyon to Creede; Creede SWA is used for the take out for this run 
  • Creede to Wagon Wheel Gap; Creede SWA is used for the put-in 
  • Wagon Wheel Gap to South Fork; Coller SWA is the take-out 
  • South Fork to Del Norte; Coller SWA is the put-in


  • Roaring Fork River 
  • Basalt to Carbondale; Bob Terrell SWA overlaps with the takeout for this run


  • White River, North Fork 
  • Mirror Lake to South Fork; Oak Ridge SWA serves as the takeout for this segment


  • White River, South Fork 
  • National Forest CG to North Fork; Oak Ridge SWA serves as the takeout for this segment


  • Uncompahgre River 
  • Billy Creek SWA to Trout Rd; SWA is used as the put-in 


Kestrel Kunz


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