Scattering Ashes in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region

March 29, 2018

Photo of Garden of the Gods by Sarah Shiffler

When experiencing the loss of a loved one, scattering the ashes of their remains in meaningful outdoor spaces can bring great comfort during a time of pain. The process also allows those who are grieving to create a special place that they can visit and feel the presence of those who have passed long after they are gone. In our position as friendly ambassadors of the Pikes Peak region, we are often asked what the rules are for scattering ashes in Colorado Springs, including places such as Pikes Peak, local parks and local waters. We’ve created a simple guide that can help you memorialize your loved ones in a way that is legal, safe and respectful.

Always Check First Before Scattering Ashes

The state of Colorado has few limits to scattering ashes. However, each county and city has its own laws or regulations, as do local parks, state parks, national parks and other public spaces. Additionally, many lands that are perceived as public are actually private and have their own rules for such procedures or ban them altogether. Waterways are particularly strict, so it is critical that you check with the authority who oversees your chosen location. Online, you’ll often find popular blogs that tout several Colorado Springs locations as perfect for scattering ashes. The problem? Many of these locations actually do not allow it! That is why it is critical that you call your intended location ahead of time, or check its official website. Here are a few places where the practice is NOT PERMITTED, despite recent articles that state otherwise:

Pikes Peak summit, highway and trails off the highway
Garden of the Gods
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Cave of the Winds
Seven Falls

Alternative Colorado Locations for Scattering Ashes

While you might be disappointed that a chosen location does not allow the practice, there are many alternatives that are beautiful, meaningful spaces.

– Your private property: You are permitted to scatter ashes on your property (that you own) or other private property with the permission of the owner
– Rocky Mountain National Park: Requires a permit; keep your permission paperwork with you
Cremation gardens: Many local cemeteries offer special outdoor spaces that are protected and beautifully maintained
– BLM lands: Call the field office of the area to confirm; keep ceremonies small and more than 100 yards from trails, picnic areas and trailheads

Be Sensitive and Considerate When Scattering Ashes in Shared Spaces

When conducting your memorial service, it’s important to be considerate to other users of public spaces. Rocky Mountain National Park advises people to scatter ashes away from campgrounds, trails, picnic areas and high-use areas. A distance of 200 yards is advised. Here are few other tips to help you in planning your event:

Hold your ceremony during quiet periods of the day, like very early in the morning in a sunrise service or during a weekday while families and other outdoorsy folks are at work.
Do not alter the environment by creating cairns or other landmarks in the area.
Spread the ashes evenly, do not just dump them out in a pile
Do not introduce new flora or fauna into the area, i.e., planting flower seeds or trees, or releasing butterflies or birds

We hope that this guide will help you in finding the right location to honor your loved one. With a bit of planning, you will be able to create a remembrance ceremony that brings comfort and peace in your time of loss.

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