• Photo of the continental divide blanketed in snow. NPS Photo by VIP Schonlau

    Rocky Mountain

    National Park Colorado

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    Damages on Old Fall River Road are extensive and the road will remain closed to vehicles through 2014. It is unknown at this time whether hikers and bicyclists will be allowed on the road. More »

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2012 Visitation Stats Released For Rocky Mountain National Park

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Date: February 12, 2013
Contact: Kyle Patterson, (970) 586-1363

In 2012, an estimated 3,229,618 visitors recreated in Rocky Mountain National Park. Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort, and the park is correcting its public use statistics procedures for recreation and non-recreation visits.       

Starting in January of last year, traffic is now counted at Lumpy Ridge and Lily Lake on the park's east side; regression formulas rather than counters are used for the park's west side minor entrances; Hiker Shuttle riders and visitors who enter the park on horseback are counted as recreational visits; and Sun Valley Road, a county road across from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, is no longer counted as non-recreation visitation because this road is not administered by the park. Due to park visitation calculations changing in 2012, the only way to compare this year to previous year's visitation is to look at the park's major entrance stations. Comparing other statistics would be inaccurate.     

Several factors inevitably affected the park's 2012 visitation. Many months in 2012, including March, April and May, were unseasonably warm and dry. A major road construction project took place on Bear Lake Road during the year, impacting private vehicle access from late May through early October. June and early July saw several major Colorado wildfires outside of the park. National attention and media coverage of the fires likely affected Colorado visitation in July, including the park. On June 23, during the Woodland Heights Fire on the park boundary, US 36 leading to the Beaver Meadows Entrance was closed for several hours.      

The Fern Lake Fire began on October 9, causing some road and trail closures in early October. The fire became active again and from December 1 to December 6 the park was closed at Beaver Point (Highway 36) and Fall River Entrance (Highway 34). Those areas reopened on December 7; however, Bear Lake Road remained closed until December 12. On December 21, all trail and area closures related to the Fern Lake Fire were lifted. 

  2011         2012

Visitation Visitation   % Change

Beaver Meadows Entrance   1,319,237    1,607,841  -17.9

Fall River Entrance                   804,875    813,942       -1.1

Grand Lake Entrance               431,391     418,000        3.2

Total Recreation Visitors       3,229,618 3,176,941      1.7 

(These entrance station figures will not add up to the Total Recreation figure, as many other entrances and park users are counted)                                                               

Past 5 Year's Visitor Numbers   

Year Visitors

2012* 3,229,618

2011 3,176,941

2010 3,128,445

2009 2,991,528

2008 2,929,750 

* Visitation calculations were adjusted in 2012, therefore not comparable to previous years.     

Top 10 Days in 2012 

1  September 29

2 September 2

3 August 5

4  July 22

5 September 16

6  August 12

7  September 3

8  July 15

9  September 15

10 July 30      

Did You Know?

a photo of treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park

If the current amount of total nitrogen deposition measured at the high-elevation monitoring site in Rocky Mountain National Park (3 kg/ha/yr) was the same throughout the park, the amount of airborne nitrogen entering the park would be equivalent to 35,500 twenty-pound bags of fertilizer. More...