In most cases throughout the state of Colorado, when you pull into a state park, envelopes at a stand near the entrance instruct you to put down your information and put in your day pass fee. Sometimes, those passes are gone. Sometimes, the deposit box is full. Sometimes, you may decide you’d rather have an annual pass instead of just a day pass.
If it’s after office hours, these problems could lead you right back out of the park. At Trinidad Lake State Park, these problems could likely now be solved with the recent addition of a solar-powered kiosk the park is aptly calling an “iron ranger”.
“Park visitors can access the iron rangers at the Reilly Canyon entrance, South Shore entrance, and the Visitor Center,” said a recent social media announcement from the park’s Facebook page.
These machines make it simple to purchase a daily vehicle pass, annual pass, family annual pass, individual walk in pass, or to make a donation with a credit or debit card. That said, Park Ranger Floyd Duran said the iron rangers do not accept cash nor do they have any cash in them.
Duran explained that if purchasing any pass other than a day pass, the machine would print a receipt valid for 30 days and would need to be brought into a Colorado State Park office within that time to be redeemed for annual or family passes. Until then, the receipt would be valid to get into the park.
“It’s going to give people more options,” Duran said. “A lot of people nowadays don’t carry cash. A lot of people show up, spur of the moment, driving through the park and they don’t have cash. If our office is open that’s fine, they can run up and pay with a card, but now the iron rangers gives them the option of using a card at our outlying gates.”
As concerns are still high regarding COVID-19, Duran added that this would be another step that would reduce potential transmission of the disease.
“With COVID-19 going on, [the iron rangers] eliminates some of the person to person contact,” said Duran. “Especially when we get lines at the office. Some people just want to purchase a daily pass and instead of waiting in line for 20 minutes because someone is buying a fishing license or those sort of things that take more time, now they have a quicker option to get into the park.”
Many Colorado parks already have made good use of the moneyless kiosks and as funds become available, Duran said he expected they would be adding more.
“In the future, I’m hoping we’re going to get more iron rangers and put them at the boat ramp and maybe even our South Shore campground,” said Duran.
While all passes can be obtained from the machine, park officials said campers would still need to go through camping reservations at cpwshop.com or calling 1-800-244-5613. Fishing passes can be obtained online or through the office during regular hours.