Reducing Congestion in Rocky Mountain National Park's Bear Lake Corridor

a dynamic message board sign along the side of a road, mountain in distance
This dynamic message sign was located in the Lyons, Colorado
area in 2011 to intercept visitors as they traveled to the Rocky
Mountain National Park.

FHWA photo

Rocky Mountain National Park, in collaboration with Federal Highway Administration-Central Federal Lands Highway Division, the Town of Estes Park, Colorado, and the Colorado Department of Transportation tested dynamic message signs (DMS) during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 peak seasons.

The purpose of the DMS in the 2011 season was to reduce crowding in the Bear Lake Corridor and in downtown Estes Park, by encouraging visitors to use a Park and Ride and shuttle buses. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons the DMS also became vital to inform visitors about access restrictions on Bear Lake Road during construction.

DMS signs were deployed on the major highways leading into Estes Park, all relaying messages to use the Park and Ride and take shuttle buses into Rocky Mountain National Park. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons the signs also said that shuttle buses were the only way to access Bear Lake during construction.

Evaluations were performed each year. Overall findings showed DMS did have a significant impact on the use of the Park and Ride, with over 70% of the riders reporting they saw the messages on the DMS. Both the Park and the Town have expressed interest in pursuing more permanent installations.