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3 tips for minding your outdoor manners this summer

Denver Water makes some of its land available for recreation, but please don’t feed the bears.

As the third-largest landowner in the state, Denver Water is proud to make some of its reservoirs, canals and canyons available for enjoying our state's blue skies and sunny days — the hallmarks of summertime in Colorado.

But when it comes to recreation, which can involve thousands of Coloradans on any given weekend, manners make a difference to people and the environment.

According to Peggy Post, the great-granddaughter of the famed etiquette author Emily Post, and also the author of the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette book, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

I heartily agree with her and I’d expand her sentiment to include the need to be sensitive to the environment as well people. If you are sensitive, then it doesn’t matter what fork, or fork in the road, you select.

A man rides his bike through Waterton Canyon southwest of the Denver metro area. Waterton Canyon is a Denver Water operations facility that is open for public recreation throughout the year. Because of its proximity to the metro area, Waterton Canyon welcomes thousands of visitors nearly every weekend in the summer. Photo credit: Denver Water.


As our state’s population grows, so does the use of our reservoirs and trails.

Here are three tips to follow to be a good steward of our environment and a good neighbor to your fellow travelers as you enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

1. Stay on the trail.

This is particularly true on Denver Water property, where daily water operations are mingled with beautiful scenery.

I am kind of a rebel by nature, so I understand the temptation to ignore signs indicating what is allowed and where it’s allowed while hiking. The truth is, these signs are posted for a good reason. The places we are told not to go are places we shouldn’t go — because it’s not safe.

2. Have situational awareness.   

When you are at Denver Water facilities, you also should be aware of equipment and moving vehicles, which have the right of way. Finally, look out for each other.

Pay attention to the weather conditions. Know where you can refill your water bottles. Look out for trail dangers like rockslides and high-water conditions.

I wish this one went without saying, but in the age of social media distraction, it’s a good reminder to be curious and aware of what is going on around you.

3. Respect the wildlife.

As you enjoy the outdoors, please give the animals you encounter — and their young — plenty of space. Also, don’t feed wild animals, they can take care of themselves!

Lots of animals, including bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, bears, mountain lions and a variety of birds live on Denver Water property, some of which is open for recreation.

Lastly, before you go, make sure to check the website to be up to date on potential closures at specific locations. Denver Water also asks that you know and follow local safety guidelines for COVID-19.

Being prepared is the best way to enjoy the outdoors.

Bears can catch their own food. Image credit: iStock.