Celebrate Earth Day in Your National, State Parks

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper

By Steve Graham

Earth Day is celebrated on Monday, April 22, marking the anniversary of the modern environmental movement launched in 1970. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by getting into nature and maybe even volunteering to clean up your natural world.

The National Parks Service is making it even easier by offering free entry to all parks on Saturday, April 20, to coincide with Earth Day. There are also several Earth Day activities at national and state parks across Colorado.


Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado’s best-known park is hosting an Earth Day celebration, with free admission to the park and all activities, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Meet park staff and scientists, craft some artwork at arts and crafts tables, or tour the park’s greenhouses to see new spring buds.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Photo: Neill Pieper

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Photo: Neill Pieper

 Colorado National Monument

On the western slope, Colorado National Monument is using the free entry day to host activities for junior rangers. Go to the back porch of the visitor center at 10 a.m. for a kids’ geology program, and at 2 p.m. for an opportunity to design a personalized NPS arrowhead symbol. No registration is required.


Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Between Colorado Springs and Buena Vista is a hidden gem of unusually rich and diverse fossil beds, which has been turned into a national monument. Volunteer interpretive ranger Steve Veatch hosts an interactive poetry workshop at 1 p.m. Participants can meet at the visitor center to hike, make observations, learn about different poetry styles and write their own nature-based poems. 


Other fee-free sites

There is also free admission on Saturday, April 20, to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkDinosaur National MonumentGreat Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve,Hovenweep National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park.


Earth Day Lake cleanup events

From 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 19, volunteers can participate in a shoreline clean up at Eleven Mile and Spinney Mountain State Parks. Monofilament fishing line can take 600 years to degrade, and the fishing enthusiasts who flock to these popular lakes near Colorado Springs have left plenty of fishing lines and micro-trash behind. For more information about the cleanup, contact Kasey McClurg at kasey.mcclurg@state.co.us or 719-748-3401, Ext. 6.

South of Pueblo, there is another Earth Day cleanup around Martin and Horseshoe Lakes at Lathrop State Park outside Walsenburg. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., volunteers can join the 4th annual Jon Sudar Memorial Spring Clean in honor of naturalist Jon Sudar. For more details, contact Tom Macedo at 719-738-2376, ext. 6.


Bird Walk for Earth Day

Finally, in Mueller State Park near Divide, a naturalist will host a bird walk in search of spring migratory species from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 22. American robins and mountain bluebirds arrived in March, and other species are expected this month.