Hikers snub monument barricades

Hikers aplenty continue to take off on well-worn trails into Colorado National Monument, which has been closed by the federal shutdown since Tuesday.

Three hikers shimmied past an overturned barricade at the Wildwood trail head Wednesday morning, noting that the wind blew over the white-and-orange structure shortly before they arrived for a “short hike” up the trail.

They weren’t alone. Five cars were parked in the Wildwood lot.

In doing so, the hikers were trespassing and subject to federal law, under which they could have been cited or even jailed. The penalty for such violations can run as high as six months in jail or a $5,000 fine, said Colorado National Monument Ranger Mike Allen.

No incident had come close to that, Allen said Thursday as he tended to the barricade at the west entrance.

Which isn’t to say visitors/trespassers hadn’t pushed the envelope.

He found the barricades pushed aside in previous evenings as visitors evidently tried to drive to spectacular Monument Canyon high above.
A steel gate, however, blocks the path near the visitor center, so the efforts were likely in vain, Allen said.

The visitors he had asked to leave had been cooperative, Allen said.

While it’s illegal to traipse across the monument, rangers are cooperating with local law enforcement and will respond as they would normally to emergencies, Allen said.

“We’re all available for emergency response, and we’ll rely on county resources like we always do,” Allen said.

Little movement on resolving the shutdown took place Thursday, leaving bike tour promoter Mike Heaston with a dilemma he expected to resolve about noon today.

Heaston has an alternate route set up for the Icon Lasik Tour of the Moon ride scheduled on Saturday on the monument should the shutdown force him to take the ride elsewhere, he said.

The alternate route would run along Little Park Road and through the Bangs Canyon area.

Tour of the Moon riders have been warned of the possibility they’ll be unable to ride across Colorado National Monument because of the federal shutdown.

Participants still will take part in a memorable ride if the alternate route has to be used, Heaston said.

“They’ll be pulling off the road and taking pictures,” just as they would on the monument, Heaston said.


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