Beginning June 4th, a timed entry permit or camping reservation is now required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park in a private vehicle between the hours of 6 am and 5 pm. Rocky Mountain National Park has implemented the timed entry reservation system in order to reopen the park and meet the CDC, state and local guidance related to Covid-19.
The Kawuneechee and Alpine Visitor Centers remain closed at this time, but as of Thursday, June 4th, Trail Ridge Road is open! Park visitors are advised to be aware that, due to melting snow on the road and the potential for freezing temperatures, they should be prepared for icy conditions. At this time, night time closures will not be implemented. However, because weather conditions may change rapidly, night closures are possible. Be prepared to adjust travel plans accordingly and call the park’s Trail Ridge Road recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222 for current status. Park staff will update the recorded line during and after regular office hours, when the road status changes.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet features many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds. Add another 300+ miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife and starry nights, a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is unforgettable.
More people than ever before are coming to experience the grandeur of Rocky Mountain National Park: in 2019, the park had over 4.7 million visitors— the third most visited national park in the country. While this level of visitation means that new and larger audiences are learning about and experiencing this incredible place, it also presents challenges.
Each private vehicle entering the park will need a reservation for each day the vehicle will be in the park. The person making the reservation needs to be in the vehicle at the time of entry and ID may be required at time of entry.
Park entrance fees are also required at the time of reservation to facilitate minimal contact when entering the park. If you have an annual or lifetime pass at the time of your reservation, those are accepted as your entrance fee. Valid entrance passes accepted are: Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass, Interagency Volunteer Pass, Interagency Military Pass, Interagency 4th Grade Pass. Passholders will still pay a $2 reservation fee.
- Vehicle entry reservations will be available for advanced reservations beginning on May 28th for arrival dates between June 4 and July 31. Following this initial release of inventory, reservations will be available one month in advance on the first of the month at 8 am MT. Example: On July 1, reservations will be available for the dates of August 1-31.
- Vehicle entry reservations are also available two days in advance at 8 am MT on a rolling daily window. Example: on June 2, reservations will be available for June 4; on June 3, reservations will be available for June 5.
Reservations are currently available through July 31. Visitors can reserve a timed entry permit online at recreation.gov.
A phased reopening
On May 27, in accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities, Rocky Mountain National Park increased recreational access and services. In the first phase, from May 27 through June 3, the park reopened many outlying areas and basic park road and trail access.
Phase Two – Timed Entry System effective June 4
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country. To increase park access while providing the public a reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines, the park has temporarily implemented a timed entry system effective at the beginning of Phase Two on June 4. The park will cease using this system in later phases of the reopening.
“We are eager to welcome visitors back to their national park,” said Superintendent Darla Sidles. “This system will more safely manage the pace and flow of visitor use, reduce crowding, and provide an improved visitor experience in alignment with the park’s safe operational capacity.”
Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 am through 5 pm. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park.
In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity, or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day.
Phase Three – Late June
The Park Service will continue to monitor for visitor safety and hopes to open the Kawuneechee and Alpine Visitor Centers in this phase of reopening.
Phase Four – Normal Operations
It is unlikely the park will fully reopen without restrictions this summer. Much is dependent upon the latest COVID-19 precautions. Park staff will continue to monitor the situation.
Health and Safety
When recreating, park visitors should follow local area health orders, maintain social distance, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. Please do not visit if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19. Park staff will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
- Keep your distance. Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail or in a parking lot. If staying at least six feet from others is not possible, wear a cloth face covering as recommended by the CDC. Cloth face coverings should also be worn while in park restrooms.
- Keep it with you. If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
- Know your limits. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest search and rescue parks in the country. Many of these incidents could be avoided with visitors planning and making responsible decisions. Winter-like conditions exist in high elevation areas of the park. For example, Bear Lake currently has 14 inches of snow. It is critical to make wise choices to keep our national park rangers and first responders out of harm’s way.
- Protect wildlife. Obey speed limits and be aware of wildlife. During the closure, due to lack of vehicular traffic, park rangers have observed more wildlife congregating adjacent to or on internal park roads.
For more information, visit nps.gov/romo/