Social distancing is an unfortunate part of life these days, but there are inherent advantages to the health practice. All one has to do to find them is get outside and explore some of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes.

That’s easier now than ever as the National Park Service announced this week the temporary waiving of entrance fees. This means visitors can roam places such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve without spending a dime.

“This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible national parks,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said Wednesday afternoon in a statement laying out the directive.

Most outdoor spaces throughout the region and across the state remain open. One exception is the Manitou Incline, which was closed Wednesday by Manitou Springs city officials who deemed the popular hike a “health hazard” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Jared Polis, meanwhile, has extolled the health benefits of spending time outside while adhering to the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick.

NPS sites including Mesa Verde National Park and Colorado National Monument have closed visitor centers and canceled programs. However, trails and roads in the parks are accessible. The closest NPS site to Colorado Springs is 45 minutes west at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

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