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Update Colorado Recreational Use Statute

Concerning the liability of owners of private land for damages that are incurred by persons who access the private land for recreational purposes.
2023 Regular Session
Civil Law
Bill Summary

The bill amends the Colorado recreational use statute (CRUS).

Section 1 of the bill amends the stated purposes of the CRUS. Section 2 amends definitions of terms and adds a definition of the term "inherent dangers or risks". Section 3 changes the conditions under which the CRUS limits a landowner's (owner's) liability for damages that occur as a result of other persons' use of the owner's land for recreational purposes. Section 3 also repeals limitations on the total amount of damages that may be recovered from a private landowner that leases land to a public entity for recreational purposes or that grants an easement or other right to use land to a public entity for recreational purposes. In place of these limitations, the bill substitutes language stating that, except as otherwise agreed by a public entity and an owner, an owner is not liable for losses resulting from a public entity's management, or failure to provide adequate management, of land that is used for recreational purposes. Section 3 also removes unused and redundant definitions of terms. Section 4 amends several exceptions that describe circumstances under which the CRUS does not limit an owner's liability. Specifically:

  • The CRUS allows an owner to be found liable for "willful or malicious" failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause "harm". Section 4 limits this exception to apply only to malicious failures and amends the exception to apply to a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause "harm or death".
  • The CRUS includes an exception in cases in which an owner imposes a charge upon a person who goes on the land for recreational purposes. Section 4 removes certain language from this exception that is redundant with language that appears elsewhere in the CRUS.
  • The CRUS includes an exception concerning attractive nuisances. Section 4 provides that if a property used for public recreational purposes contains active or inactive agricultural operations; active or inactive mining operations, gravel operations, or other mineral and energy development; or certain water structures, neither the property nor the agricultural operations, nor the mining or gravel operations or other development, nor the water or water structures constitute an attractive nuisance.
  • The CRUS allows an owner to be held liable for injury received on land incidental to the use of land on which a commercial or business enterprise of any description is being carried on. However, when land is leased to a public entity for recreational purposes or a public entity has been granted an easement or other right to use land for recreational purposes, the land is not considered to be land upon which a business or commercial enterprise is being carried on. Section 4 removes this qualification from the exception.

Section 5 relocates language stating that the CRUS does not limit the protections afforded to an owner under Colorado's premises liability statute. Section 5 also states that nothing in the CRUS creates a prescriptive easement on private land where an owner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes.

Current law allows the prevailing party in any civil action brought by a recreational user for damages against a landowner who allows the use of the landowner's property for public recreational purposes to recover the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court. Section 6 states that in the event that an action is commenced by any party, the prevailing party is entitled to recover all fees, costs, and expenses, including fees and expenses of attorneys and experts and fees and expenses associated with appeals of the court's decision. Section 7 states that nothing in the CRUS may be construed to limit the authority of an owner to:

  • Determine any or all of the recreational purposes that are allowed on the owner's land;
  • Identify areas of the land where recreational purposes are allowed or not allowed; or
  • Restrict persons from engaging in recreational purposes on the owner's land.

Section 7 also describes means by which an owner who elects to take any of these actions may provide notice to the public of such actions. Section 7 also states that except as otherwise provided in the CRUS:

  • An owner owes no duty of care to keep the owner's premises safe for entry by other persons for recreational purposes or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the premises to persons entering the land for such purposes; and
  • Neither the installation of a sign or other form of warning of a dangerous condition, nor the failure to maintain or keep in place any sign or other warning, nor the failure to make any modification to improve safety creates any liability on the part of an owner when there is no other basis for liability.
    (Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)




Bill Text


Sponsor Type Legislators
Prime Sponsor

Sen. M. Baisley
Rep. M. Lynch


Sen. J. Rich
Rep. R. Taggart, Rep. R. Weinberg


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The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details