Fire Management

Fire is an inevitable and essential part of most forest ecosystems in Rocky, making the management of wildland fire a top priority. Wildland Fire Management is part of the Resource Stewardship division at Rocky, the divison that provides scientific guidance to the park on matters relating to natural and cultural resources.

winter pile burning; firefighters responding to an active wildfire
Top: Slash piles are burned in the winter to reduce fuel loads.
Bottom: Firefighters responding to the 2013 Big Meadows Fire.

NPS Photo / Kelly Boyd

Wildland Fire Management Goals

  • Reduce risk for the safety of employees and the public

  • Reduce risk for communities, infrastructure, natural and cultural resources

  • Restore and maintain fire-adapted ecosystems

Wildland Fire Management Program Elements

Two main program elements help the Wildland Fire Management team achieve their goals: a comprehensive fuels program and response to wildland fire.

Fire managers have developed a plan for fuels-reduction treatments across the park. Fuels are any flammable materials, including trees, shrubs, dead and downed vegetation, and grasses. Reducing the volume and changing the arrangement of fuels can help give firefighters a safer place to fight a fire, create a buffer zone to keep fires within park boundaries, establish evacuation routes, and decrease the duration of a wildfire. Examples of fuels treatments include prescribed burns of surface fuels and thinning of forest vegetation to reduce fuel loading.

In collaboration with other agencies, including the Alpine Hotshots, the Wildland Fire Management team is prepared to respond to wildland fires, taking safe and appropriate action to meet their goals. Because fire has beneficial effects on the natural landscape, the goal may not be to extinguish the fire. Naturally ignited fires that are not threatening people, homes, or valuable natural or cultural resources may be allowed to burn, a strategy called wildland fire use, to fulfill planned objectives for restoring and maintaining fire-adapted ecosystems.

Rocky Mountain National Park Fire Management Logo

Last updated: April 5, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


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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