Guffey Gorge, otherwise known as Paradise Cove, is a day-use area that is popular for swimming, cliff jumping, bird watching, hiking, and rock climbing. The secluded swimming hole, surrounded by 85-foot rock walls, can be accessed by a short half mile hike. Media attention has caused visitation to the gorge to explode in the last few years. On just one hot summer day, the area can see up to 1,000 visitors. This high visitation is accompanied by prolific impacts including trail erosion, human waste issues, litter, and user conflicts. An increasing number of users are young adults in the 18-30 age-range. With these new users comes an increasing amount of alcohol usage creating a party atmosphere that has ruined the experience of other visitors including long-term locals.
The Traveling Trainers spent two days working directly with visitors at the Guffey Gorge trailhead, many of whom were visiting for the first time. They educated nearly 600 individuals about the various recreation-related impacts at the Gorge and discussed specific Leave No Trace skills they should practice to help protect the area from further degradation. During these contacts, the team handed out educational materials and trash bags. Many of the visitors returned to the trailhead with full trash bags.
Leave No Trace also hosted workshops for two large school groups from the town of Guffey and the nearby Canon City. Many of the students they worked with had visited the gorge and had some awareness of the issues there. The team used these workshops to address the specific relevant impacts and the skills and ethics students could practice to help prevent further damage to the gorge. the Traveling Trainers also worked with a small group of BLM staff, local fire department staff, and local community members. These individuals already had knowledge of Leave No Trace skills and ethics in a way that would change negative visitor behaviors and prevent future impacts in the gorge.
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