With Colorado experiencing a massive increase in its overall population, as well as seeing a steady rise in tourism/visitation during recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has grown concerned about the impact it's having on State Wildlife Areas (SWA).

CPW manages more than 350 SWAs throughout the Centennial State. These designated areas are critical habitats for Colorado wildlife and are also valuable to outdoor recreationists. They're acquired using hunter and angler dollars, with the purpose of conserving wildlife habitat. Through the sale of licenses and passes, CPW is able to preserve these areas, which then provides wildlife-related recreational opportunities.

State Wildlife Areas have always been open to the public, but as more and more people visit these properties and engage in outdoor activities that were not always intended for the space, it can disturb and displace wildlife. CPW used the example of hiking, explaining that while it has always been allowed in State Wildlife Areas, it was never the intended purpose for these places.

In 2020, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to require everyone who enters an SWA to possess a valid Colorado hunting or fishing license.

In 2021, the Commission added the option of a Colorado SWA Pass, for those who are unable or unwilling to purchase a hunting or fishing license, but still want to access State Wildlife Areas.

Requiring a license or pass to enter aims to reinforce the primary intent of these properties. In addition, the new regulations help to ensure that everyone who visits these important places are also helping to contribute to their management and maintenance, while allowing CPW to continue to protect key wildlife habitat.

Pricing for an annual SWA pass is $36.08, plus a fee of $10.40 for a Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp. There are also annual youth, senior, and low-income passes available for $10.07. Annual passes are valid from March 1 to March 31 of the following year, which also aligns with the 13-month season for fishing licenses in Colorado. People can also buy a one-day SWA pass for $9.

The SWA pass will be available for purchase starting May 1, 2021.

Colorado's Wild Big Game Populations