Coloradans skipped Black Friday shopping and flooded state parks

At 11 a.m. on Black Friday, there was an hour-long wait — not to get into Best Buy or Walmart, but to get into Roxborough State Park.

Roxborough State Park is filled to the brim with visitors on Black Friday when such places are open free to the public. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)Roxborough State Park; outdoors; black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado
Roxborough State Park is filled to the brim with visitors on Black Friday when such places are open free to the public. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) Roxborough State Park; outdoors; black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado
Roxborough State Park is filled to the brim with visitors on Black Friday when such places are open free to the public. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

At 11 a.m. on Black Friday, there was an hour-long wait — not to get into Best Buy or Walmart, but to get into Roxborough State Park.

Park ranger Lisa Naughton said she’s never seen it get this crazy before. At 9:50 a.m., 101 parking spots had filled up. At 11 a.m., there were about 40 cars waiting for one-in, one-out admission on what Colorado Parks and Wildlife were calling #FreshAirFriday. Admission to all state parks was free for the day, encouraging people to go outside rather than go to the outlets.

Jamie Rooney was among those waiting for access to the park. He said he’s not interested in shopping and was motivated by REI’s OptOutside campaign.

“I’d rather be outside than bother people at work,” he said.

Roxborough State Park ranger Lisa Naughton tells a visitor that the park is full and that they are free to enter an hour-long line to enter. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) Roxborough State Park; outdoors; black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado
Roxborough State Park ranger Lisa Naughton tells a visitor that the park is full and that they are free to enter an hour-long line to enter. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

At 3 p.m., there was still an hour-long wait for entry. Park rangers at Roxborough had recorded more than 700 visitors coming through the visitor center (there’s no way to accurately track visitors who don’t stop at the center). For comparison, one ranger said the park saw around 500 visitors on the Fourth of July.

And it wasn’t just Roxborough. Parks around the area were packed on the sunny and warm day.

Reached at 3:15 p.m., Melva Friesen at Golden Gate Canyon State Park said around 1,200 people had been through the visitor center.

“Our parking lots have been full. People have been parking illegally on the road. Our rangers have been really busy,” she said. “REI had set up a bus, had people sign up to come up here. They dropped them off. We had a lot of moms with children come up. That was kind of neat. A lot of kids, while they were here, did the Junior Ranger program. We gave out more patches and badges today than we have since the first of November.”

The Waterton Canyon parking lot is filled with cars. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado;
The Waterton Canyon parking lot is filled with cars. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Zach Taylor, park manager at Staunton State Park, said they saw a record 620 cars, which they estimate adds up to about 1,500 people. The previous record was about 550 cars.

Barr Lake State Park in Brighton had 1,633 visitors before 3:45 p.m. Park manager Michelle Seubert said that while a Saturday event like the Harvest Festival draws more than that, “it’s definitely a very high number for this time of year.”

Meanwhile, at the Denver Pavilions, things were fairly quiet.

Denver Pavilions is not too crowded on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) 16th street mall; sixteenth street; shopping; retail; pavillions; black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado
Denver Pavilions is not too crowded on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The 16th Street Mall is business as usual on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) 16th street mall; sixteenth street; shopping; retail; pavillions; black friday; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado
The 16th Street Mall is business as usual on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

We were unable to track down numbers for shoppers at Best Buy or Walmart, but at least one shopping center in the metro area was bustling into midday: the Outlets at Castle Rock.

The packed parking lot at the Outlets at Castle Rock on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
The packed parking lot at the Outlets at Castle Rock on Black Friday. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Of course, it’s possible that some people went shopping and hiking, but either way, this is nice.

Kevin J. Beaty contributed to this report.

Ashley Dean

Author: Ashley Dean

Ashley Dean covers dining and nightlife, and other odds and ends. She previously covered music and did some copy editing for the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily and the Daily Camera. She's from New York, likes her bourbon straight and has strong opinions about Kanye West. She can be reached at adean@denverite.com, 303-502-2804 or @AshleyDean.