Responding to Surging Interest, Colorado Launches Backcountry Winter Safety

Colorado’s natural spaces saw a significant increase in visitation and use in 2020, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. This increased interest in visitation and discovery of the state’s public land provides an opportunity to educate all Coloradans and visitors about backcountry safety and the State’s strong outdoor ethos, which must be respected to conserve natural lands and maintain healthy wildlife populations, enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities and tourism economy.

The Colorado Tourism Office is raising awareness of backcountry risks and the importance of backcountry education by encouraging Coloradans and visitors to stay safe while having fun in the outdoors this season. This initiative was developed as a collaboration among three state agencies -- the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) -- to reduce pressures on natural resources, Colorado Search and Rescue and rural public health systems already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.This winter-long effort encourages backcountry enthusiasts to take the Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Pledge and send donations to the all-volunteer Colorado Search and Rescue Association.   

The new pledge asks outdoor adventurers to commit themselves to three principles: Know Before You Go, Recreate Responsibly and Care for Colorado.

Unlike past tourism campaigns aimed at inspiring travel, the CTO’s latest effort uses a 30-second video, digital advertising and social media to encourage people to keep themselves and others safe.

“Colorado is seeing a surge of interest in winter backcountry recreation, whether backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or fat biking," said Colorado Tourism Director Cathy Ritter. “With so many trying outdoor experiences for the first time these days, we saw an important opportunity to help backcountry newcomers get on the right path to stay safe and reduce their impacts.”    

The campaign guides both Colorado residents and people booking trips to Colorado to a new winter backcountry safety microsite on filled with resources, including a listing of both online and in-person safety classes and a directory of backcountry guides and outfitters.

Winter in Colorado offers something for everyone from the festive atmospheres of our cities to adventures that can be found on the snowy slopes. Just make sure to Know Before You Go, Recreate Responsibly and Care for Colorado and keep yourself--and our public lands--safe and sound. 

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