Night Sky & Natural Sounds

Night Sky with stars
Night sky from Wild Basin

NPS/Crystal Brindle


Dark night skies and natural quiet are examples of the intangible resources protected by Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, the booming growth of Front Range communities makes some degradation of these resources inevitable. However, park planners are working with local communities to protect the park to the extent possible.

A research study, led by Dr. Jonathan Taylor, examined what types of backcountry experiences park visitors most value. You can read the report entitled Wilderness Experience in Rocky Mountain National Park 2002: Report to RMNP. This information assisted park managers in planning for the continued protection of the park's "intangible" resources.

Milky Way above Bear Lake
Milky Way above Bear Lake


Night Sky

The ability to view the stars, moon, planets and other celestial objects is an important part of the visitor experience. Views of the night sky degraded by light pollution from park facilities and nearby urban development. Rocky Mountain National Park installs exterior light fixtures that protect the night sky as facilities are constructed or older buildings are remodeled. The town of Estes Park has adopted a new zoning code that requires shielded light fixtures for all new development.

The park offers night sky astronomy programs in the summer and winter.

See the Ranger Led Programs page for details.

telescopes and people in a meadow
Astronomy programs are popular on summer nights.



Natural Sounds

The Park Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998 banned the use of low-flying, commercial air tours over Rocky Mountain National Park. Rock is the only park in the system to date that has this type of protection. Passage of this legislation reflects widespread community support for limiting noise from aircraft. Commercial airlines, military and private aircraft are not covered by this policy and are allowed to fly above a specified altitude. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates air traffic over the park and has established "published" routes to which commercial aircraft must adhere. Military and private aircraft are not restricted to these routes.

Bighorn sheep bleating, Alberta falls, juvenile great horned owl
A bleating Bighorn ewe, Alberta Falls, and the hoot of a Great Horned Owl are a few of the cherished natural sounds in Rocky's landscape.



Last updated: May 7, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


(970) 586-1206
Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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