DENVER (KDVR) — Wildfire smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest will make its way to Colorado Friday, creating problematic conditions for sensitive groups.

Park managers say this may decrease the crowds at state parks, which is helpful for the environment since they are seeing a record number of visitors.

Cherry Creek State Park had approximately 186,000 visitors in July 2019, and in July 2022 that number jumped to about 424,000 visitors.

This increase means park managers are seeing more trash, overuse of campsites and picnic areas, and grass disappearing.

Barr Lake State Park Manager Michelle Seubert said, “We like to say that our parks sometimes are over-loved, and we have to make sure that we’re taking care of them.” 

In order to maintain the areas, staff and volunteers monitor parking lots, and even sometimes turn away people when it’s too full. Other systems in place include reservation systems and shuttle services.

For example, Eldorado Canyon State Park uses a reservation system on weekends and park managers say it’s created more manageable crowds. The park has seen visitors drop from nearly 97,000 to 62,000 in just one month.

Of course, staff still encourages getting out and enjoying the beauty of Colorado — but if you want to avoid crowds at popular trails, visit on weekdays or evenings.