Proposal for Expanded Amenity Fee for Transponder Device

Traffic Lined Up at the Beaver Medows Entrance
Vehicles are lined up to enter the park at the Beaver Meadows Entrance

NPS/Schonlau

Rocky Mountain National Park is seeking public input on a proposed $15 expanded amenity fee to provide voluntary fast pass automated gate transponders to interested visitors with valid annual or lifetime passes.

The transponders would allow interested pass-holding visitors to bypass entrance kiosks and enter the park more quickly via unstaffed fast pass lanes. Transponders would function for the lesser of one year or through the expiration month of an existing valid annual pass. 

History of RMNP's Fast Pass Lane

In 2004, Rocky Mountain National Park constructed a fast pass lane at the Beaver Meadows Entrance and in 2011, an additional fast pass lane was installed at the Grand Lake Entrance. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the only national parks that has a fast pass lane for visitors. Visitors who purchased an annual park pass or lifetime pass were able to use their pass to operate the automated gate.

However, in 2019, the National Park Service modified the format of annual and lifetime passes. The new national passes are not compatible with the park’s existing fast pass gate system technology and the fast pass gate has not been operational since 2019.

Based upon this technological challenge, the park is proposing to transition to windshield transponders for interested annual and lifetime pass holders to access the fast pass lane, outside of any pilot timed entry permit reservation system times.

Beaver Meadows Entrance is the busiest entrance to the park and high visitation often results in lengthy lines at all park entrance stations. Queue length can exceed two miles. In addition to visitor frustration, long lines of traffic also impede emergency service responses into and out of the park.

While the fast pass lane does not eliminate congestion at the park's entrance stations, providing an optional fast pass lane to interested pass-holding visitors is one strategy for reducing overall visitor queuing and traffic congestion at the park's entrance stations.

 

To Submit a Comment on this Proposal

Public engagement is an important part of the park’s planning process. Rocky Mountain National Park is accepting public comments from July 1 to July 31, 2022, on the proposed voluntary expanded amenity fee.

Please submit all comments to: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/RMNP_FAST-PASS_TRANSPONDER_2022


Comments may also be submitted via mail to:

Rocky Mountain National Park
Office of the Superintendent
1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517

Please be advised, before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

 

Frequently Asked Questions on RMNP's Proposal for Expanded Amenity Fee for Transponder Device

In 2019, the National Park Service modified the format of annual and lifetime passes. The new passes are not compatible with RMNP’s existing gate system technology and the fast pass gate has not been operational for the last few years. 

Consequently, RMNP is proposing windshield transponders in order to continue providing fast pass lane access. 

No. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the only national parks that has a fast pass lane for park visitors. 

A transponder is a small, credit card-sized device that attaches to the window of your vehicle. This transponder sends a signal to the park’s entrance gate to open the automatic gate arm. 

When a new transponder is purchased, it is programmed to work with the entrance gates at RMNP.

This transponder is only valid at Rocky Mountain National Park and is programmed to work for the lesser of one year or the remaining valid period of an annual pass. The fast pass gate would be operational outside of any pilot timed entry permit reservation system times.  

Visitors using the fast pass lane must also have their valid annual or lifetime pass with them.

Currently, due to construction projects at the other major entrances, the only gate where the transponder can be used initially will be on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, at the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

There are plans to install transponder technology at Fall River Entrance on the east side and Grand Lake Entrance on the west side of the park. The Fall River Entrance fast pass lane is expected to open summer 2023. The Grand Lake Entrance fast pass lane is expected to open Spring 2024. Timing of openings is subject to change based on weather and construction timelines. 

The pass lane can be used by valid passholders (lifetime pass holders, annual pass holders, etc.) and inholders, outside of any pilot timed entry permit reservation system times, who have purchased a transponder that works with the gate.

Visitors using the fast pass lane must also have their valid annual or lifetime pass with them. RMNP will spot audit compliance, and visitors found using the fast pass lane without a valid annual or lifetime pass will have their transponders disabled. 

No. When the park’s pilot Timed Entry Permit Reservations are in effect, the fast pass gate is not operational.  

If Rocky Mountain National Park moves forward with this proposal, the park would anticipate initiating transponder sales late spring of 2023. The fast pass lane would be operational during time frames outside of pilot Timed Entry Permit windows. 

No. Only one transponder may be purchased per valid annual or lifetime pass. However, if a household has multiple pass holders, each pass holder may purchase one transponder. 

No. The transponder is affixed to a vehicle’s windshield and is not removable or transferrable.

The estimated $15 expanded amenity fee for the transponder is the cost recovery of the actual equipment, programming, and processing. RMNP will not provide fast pass lane services without recovering these costs.

The transponder will be programmed for up to one year from the purchase date of the transponder. For lifetime passholders and inholders, transponders will only be valid for one year.

If a visitor has an existing annual pass with less than one year of validity, a purchased transponder will only be good for the valid life of the existing annual pass.

Annual pass holders, lifetime pass holders, and inholders. 

People who purchase day and weekly passes, Commercial Use Authorization holders and their clients, and Special Use permit holders, including commuter permit holders, are ineligible. 

No, the transponder is only available to valid annual and lifetime pass holders. 

Last updated: July 1, 2022

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Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park , CO 80517

Phone:

970 586-1206
The Information Office is open year-round: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily in summer; 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mondays - Fridays and 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Saturdays - Sundays in winter. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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