Rocky Mountain National Park received its highest annual visitation in 2016. The park received a total of 4,517,584 visitors for 2016, which was an 8.7 percent increase over record visitation in 2015. All months in 2016 set visitation records except for December. This visitation represents a 32 percent increase since 2014, and a 40 percent increase since 2012.
Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics are reliably accurate estimates and help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park. Winter weekend visitation also continues to increase. The top ten busiest days in 2016 in order from first to tenth were: September 24, July 3, September 4, September 17, July 24, July 10, July 17, September 5, July 23 and July 30.
Many other national parks in the Rocky Mountain West also had increases in visitation last year. The National Park Service celebrated its Centennial in 2016. Additional factors of the rise in visitation at Rocky include an increased population along the Front Range of Colorado.
Park managers will continue to address what effect this level of visitation will have on visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experiences and operational capacity. This past summer and early fall, park staff restricted vehicle access in two specific areas, the Bear Lake Road corridor and the Wild Basin area, when parking areas filled and heavy congestion warranted. This occurred most weekends from late June through September of 2016. We will continue to implement and assess these short term efforts in 2017. Addressing day use for the long term will require a thoughtful and stakeholder-engaged planning process.
For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.