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Incline reservation system permanent, officials say

Reservations started because of the pandemic, but now it’s being kept for reasons beyond COVID-19 safety
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:12 AM MDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:49 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The popular hike up the Manitou Incline will permanently require hikers reserve a spot, according to the latest update from parks officials.

Reservations were never required until August of 2020, when the Incline reopened to a limited number of hikers at a time in attempts to lessen COVID-19 spreading. The system will be kept because it’s brought benefits beyond pandemic safety.

“It has provided us some unintended consequences ... in a very positive way,” said park operations manager Kurt Schroeder. “The calls for service that the Manitou Springs Fire Department and El Paso County Search and Rescue have had to respond to have dropped like a rock.”

Officials attribute that trend to the safety reminders sent to hikers who reserve.

“Every time you make a reservation, you are hit with multiple reinforcements that this is not your typical walk in the park,” Schroeder added. Safety reminders advise hikers on what to eat, drink, wear and do beforehand to avoid problems that could -- and often do -- lead to the need for rescue.

Officials say most hiker feedback has been positive, although not everyone agrees.

“We’ve heard from some of our longtime users that would prefer that the reservation system not be there,” Schroeder said. “We really don’t feel it’s been a detriment to anybody’s ability to use the incline.”

The Incline web page says reservations are required, although walk-ups are allowed to take the spots of no-show hikers. About 20%-30% of reserved hikers are no-shows, according to parks office data.

Reservations also give parks officials data that previously hasn’t been tracked. About 50% of hikers are locals, while 25% come from out of county and the remaining 25% from out of state.

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