ESTES PARK – In 2015, Rocky Mountain National Park was the third most visited national park with over 4.1 million visitors. So far this year, Rocky is experiencing an eleven percent increase in visitation. Over the last 100 years, the reasons people visit are the same; to experience nature, to seek solitude, to enjoy scenic grandeur, to watch wildlife, and to partake in outstanding recreational activities.
Popularity and high visitation during the summer and fall, particularly during 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. can mean full parking lots, congested roads, busy trails, and long lines and wait times at entrance stations. Park staff will continue to address impacts of visitation, particularly vehicle congestion, related to visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experience and operational capacity. During periods of high vehicle congestion, park staff may restrict vehicle access, when needed, in specific areas of the park. We expect this will occur more frequently in the upper Bear Lake Road corridor and Old Fall River Road.
Plan ahead for a more enjoyable visit to Rocky!
- Hike early or hike late.
- Check the weather forecast before you arrive at the park to better plan your day and destinations. If you plan to hike later in the day, it is critical that you know the weather forecast for the elevation of your destination.
- Take advantage of the park shuttle
- Trailhead parking lots fill early in the day:
Glacier Gorge Trailhead by 6:00 a.m.
Bear Lake Trailhead by 8:30 a.m.
Park and Ride by 10:30 a.m.
Wild Basin Corridor by 9:30 a.m.
- If you want to hike in the Bear Lake Road corridor and plan to arrive after 11, your best option, and on some days your only option, will be to take the Hiker Shuttle from Estes Park
- The Alpine Visitor Center parking lot is busy between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- More than eighty percent of park visitors arrive through the east entrances of the park
- Camping is popular in the park. Reserve a campsite up to six months before your visit. The two first-come, first-served campgrounds fill up quickly. Timber Creek Campground, located on the west side of the park, fills up last.
- In September, visitation is 50 percent higher on weekends than weekdays
Two webcams operate at the Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance. The webcams face east, depicting the flow of vehicles entering the park, www.nps.gov/romo/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
The remaining fee free days for the season are August 25 through August 28, September 24 and November 11. These are typically very busy days in the park.