Colorado’s most popular 14er, Quandary Peak, will implement a new parking permit system by July 30 in an attempt to control the heavily used trailhead. A parking permit system alongside other improvements, including a shuttle bus, increased signage, and parking expansion, are all efforts that local officials hope will help combat unsafe conditions on the trailhead and surrounding roads. This plan, however, has seen mixed reactions from the roughly 75,000 annual visitors of the trailhead.
The primary motivator of this project is public safety. According to county officials (and anyone who has tried to park on the weekend), the Quandary Peak trailhead and surrounding roads are frequently strewn with tightly packed cars that have hindered rescue operations on the mountain. This is in addition to the challenges faced by nearby residents who must contend with cars blocking their driveways and parking Illegally on the shoulder of the adjacent highway. These problems have only been exacerbated in recent years as the popularity of the peak has skyrocketed.
Although details of the parking permit system have yet to be released, other mitigation strategies have already been unveiled, the most consequential being a shuttle bus from Breckenridge. The shuttle system would depart from a free parking area in Breckenridge and travel directly to the trailhead while adjusting service based on demand. More immediate actions include adding 15 to 20 spots and visual striping to organize parking at the trailhead better while also improving the surface of the nearby helipad for rescues. The other branch of the mitigation plan includes robust signage indicating no parking zones around nearby state and county roads with increased enforcement of the restrictions through ticketing.
Opponents of the crackdown are quick to point out flaws in the shuttle system and unanswered questions surrounding access to the nearby McCullough Gulch Trailhead, which can only be reached by traveling through the Quandary Trailhead. Despite the numerous unknowns surrounding the parking permits and other mitigation strategies, County Officials are determined to begin their implementation by July 30. With the rapid onset of these restrictions, looming officials have acknowledged the need for comprehensive messaging to visitors and locals who will undoubtedly have to adjust to the new restrictions.