Rocky Mountain National Park Phased Reopening To Begin
Rocky Mountain National Park Phased Reopening Begins May 27
In accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Rocky Mountain National Park will begin a phased reopening on May 27, with limited services including basic park road and trail access. Visitor centers will remain closed. Many outlying areas will reopen, however the Wild Basin area will remain closed to all public access during this initial phase.
Trail Ridge Road will be open to Rainbow Curve on the east side and Colorado River Trailhead on the west side. Park snowplow operators continue to plow snow along the roadways and parking lots of Trail Ridge Road, and the full roadway will open as soon as that is completed, weather conditions permitting. Fall River Road will be not be open to motorized vehicles during this phase, but will open to bicyclists and pedestrians. While much of the park will be accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services will be limited. Park visitor’s actions will help determine if areas remain open.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the third most visited national park in the country with over 4.6 million visitors last year. Visitors experience a high level of congestion in many areas of the park from late May through early October. In 2019, visitation from June through September was over 3.2 million visitors. In July of last year alone, almost 1 million people visited the park.
Park managers are seeking approval to implement a timed entry system, which would increase park access allowing visitors to plan ahead while providing the public a reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines.
When the park initially reopens, park staff will evaluate the level of visitation, crowding and congestion, and will meter access based on the level of visitation. This will be evaluated throughout the day. Visitors may be delayed entering or asked to return later if visitation and congestion warrants. Visitors should expect restricted vehicle access, particularly in the Bear Lake Road corridor, when parking areas fill and heavy congestion warrants. At this time, visitors can only purchase entrance passes at entrance stations with credit cards; no cash will be accepted.
When recreating, park visitors should follow local area health orders, avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities. Please don’t 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. Wear cloth face coverings 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. Bear Lake currently has 14 inches of snow. During the ongoing health crisis, 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.
Other park operations:
Road construction is ongoing on US 36 inside of Rocky Mountain National Park. The work is taking place on a 3-mile section of US 36, just west of Bear Lake Road junction to east of Deer Ridge Junction. This section of road will be closed nightly from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sunday nights through Friday mornings. There will be no nightly closures on Friday and Saturday nights. When the road reopens each morning at 7 a.m. to traffic, motorists should expect delays and a rough surface.
Major trail construction continues to take place in the Alluvial Fan area after a major flood in 2013, destroyed the existing infrastructure. The park trail crew is staging a variety of material and equipment in the west Alluvial Fan parking lot and will continue construction of the accessible West Alluvial Fan Trail. Trail and boulder access to the Roaring River from the West Alluvial Fan Parking lot will be closed to park visitors from June 1 to July 31, in the Alluvial Fan area.
Only Moraine Park and Glacier Basin Campgrounds will be partially open on June 4, with approximately half of the campsites available for reservations. Aspenglen, Timber Creek and Longs Peak Campgrounds will remain closed for the foreseeable future and may be re-evaluated for partial opening later in the summer.
Wilderness Backcountry Campsites:
Wilderness camping permits will be issued beginning May 27 through the autumn.
Shuttle Bus Operations:
Shuttle bus operations within the Bear Lake Road corridor will begin on May 27. In order to practice proper social distancing to minimize community spread of COVID-19, the capacity of the shuttle buses in the Bear Lake Corridor will be limited to 15 passengers per trip. Wear cloth face coverings while riding in the bus. It is unknown at this time whether the Hiker Shuttle from the Estes Park Visitor Center will be operating this summer.
Rocky Mountain Conservancy continues to offer Rocky themed merchandise available on their website at www.rmconservancy.org
Details and updates on park operations and services will continue to be posted on the park’s official website at www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206. For information on Trail Ridge Road, call the Trail Ridge Road status recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222.