Covid, national parks and the death of reason

Ah, the weekend – a great time to go experience the outdoors!

We drove about 90 minutes from our suburban Denver home to a beautiful high-altitude US Forest Service park above Boulder.

When we arrived at the gate, the park ranger asked, “Do you have a reservation?”


Could we buy a park pass there, like in the good old days? No.

The park ranger told us, “If you drive downhill about 20 minutes, you might get enough cell coverage to go on the website to buy a pass.”


We tried. The website had such bad usability and loaded so slowly that it was impossible to buy the necessary pass.

Two weeks later, we went to a different park to enjoy a hike. This was part of the state parks system.

Foiled again. The same exact thing happened – a different website and a different system, but we were again not able to buy a pass.

The first park’s ranger explained that this was a new system put in place since Covid.


The photo above shows that apparently others were foiled in their attempts to enter the park… the final parking lot at the trailhead was completely empty.

In the end, that first weekend, we hitched a ride from the park entrance to the trailhead with a couple who knew the system and had a pass beforehand. On the second weekend, we found a decent hike just off a main road.

So we did get to hike, but it was an exercise just to find trails we could use.


3 Replies to “Covid, national parks and the death of reason”

  1. I’m not sure I get the logic. How does COVID affect when you buy your pass? Or conversely, how does when or where you buy your pass affect COVID?

    I noticed that in the recent ads for the upcoming Orange County Fair there is a small line that says something to do with having to buy your tickets online in advance. So if you show up at the gate without it they’ll turn you away? What does that have to do with COVID? How does that protect anybody from getting sick?

    Perhaps the reality is that these venues just don’t want to handle money anymore. I know at least some baseball stadiums have gone cashless – you must use a card or Apple Pay to buy anything.

    Way back in the farthest reaches of my brain an alarm is sounding – no more cash? Is that really safe?

    1. Good question, Deb! I didn’t explain that in my post.

      Covid caused the government to say, “no more in-person ticketing.” Or some official said, “we’ll make this more efficient since we don’t have as many personnel,” without thinking through all the implications of their decision – like how it doesn’t work at many park entrances due to poor cell phone connectivity.

      Hopefully, that makes sense.

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