On May 1st the North Slope Recreation Area (NSRA) on Pikes Peak opened for the season! This is great news for outdoor enthusiasts both living in and visiting the area. The NSRA offers some tremendous opportunities for water activities, such as fishing and boating, as well as hiking, biking, and more with three reservoirs – North Catamount, South Catamount, and Crystal – and several trails. The day pass for adults is just $5 with kids under 16 getting in free. Springs hours are 9-3 but will expand for the summer on May 26th. Parking is limited, so it’s best to plan ahead and get your spot reserved at their online store rather than taking a chance at the additional passes available at the Pikes Peak Highway Gateway. Learn more about the NSRA HERE.
According to a recent Gazette article, 20,000 people every year buy tickets at the tollgate to visit the NSRA and about 300 buy season passes. It is a popular recreation venue!
But changes are coming that will disrupt this enjoyment, at least temporarily, for most of these enthusiasts and some local outdoor businesses.
A new construction project is planned for South Catamount Reservoir that will disrupt access and permits for at least 2024 and 2025. The work on Crystal Reservoir took much longer than expected – reopening this season after four years of closure. This new work – just on South Catamount – is slated to take two years and we can all hope that that timeline is not extended.
Colorado Springs Utilities, the land manager for the NSRA, has held public meetings and recently released findings on their webpage that include the following changes for 2024 and 2025:
- Motor vehicle access to South and North Catamount area cannot be permitted.
- Permits for commercially guided activities will not be available.
- Access via hiking may be available but will be subject to construction project planning
This construction project will result in the closure of all public motor vehicle access to South Catamount and North Catamount due to the use of heavy machinery on the roadway. In addition, access to the public through permitted guided recreational activities, such as fishing and paddle boarding, will not be allowed and their future is uncertain. The results of a recent public engagement effort were split regarding sentiment of continuing to allow these and other providers to continue to operate on the NSRA beyond this year. This comes as one more hit to these local businesses, as their services are being targeted and permits reduced on many fronts, and in some cases, there are few options left to them.
In a future post, we will discuss the value of local outdoor businesses who provide educational classes and guided opportunities to the public who want or need a coach to elevate their recreational experience.