When Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park Plan Ahead For A More Enjoyable Visit

Boarding park shuttle bus at Bear Lake.
Courtesy RMNP, Rachel Williams

Park visitors board shuttle bus at Bear Lake.

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News Release Date: January 2, 2017

In 2016, Rocky Mountain National Park was the fourth most visited national park with over 4.5 million visitors.  This visitation represents a 32 percent increase since 2014, and a 40 percent increase since 2012. Over the last 100 years, the reasons people visit are the same; to experience nature, to seek solitude, to enjoy scenic grandeur, to watch wildlife, and to partake in outstanding recreational activities.
Popularity and high visitation during the summer and fall, particularly during 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. can mean full parking lots, congested roads, busy trails, and long lines and wait times at entrance stations.  In 2016, during summer and early fall, park staff restricted vehicle access in the Bear Lake Road corridor and the Wild Basin area when parking areas filled and heavy congestion warranted. Staff also restricted vehicle access in the Alpine Visitor Center parking area. These restrictions occurred most weekends from late June through September. Park staff will continue to implement these restrictions in 2017. Addressing day use for the long term will require a thoughtful and stakeholder-engaged planning process. 
Plan ahead for a more enjoyable visit to Rocky! 
  • Hike early or hike late. 
  • Check the weather forecast before you arrive at the park to better plan your day and destinations. If you plan to hike later in the day, it is critical that you know the weather forecast for the elevation of your destination. 
  • Carpool 
  • Take advantage of the park shuttle 
  • Trailhead parking lots fill early in the day: 
  • Glacier Gorge Trailhead by 6:00 a.m. 
  • Bear Lake Trailhead by 8:30 a.m. 
  • Park and Ride by 10:30 a.m. 
  • Wild Basin Corridor by 9:30 a.m. 
  • If you want to hike in the Bear Lake Road corridor and plan to arrive after 11, your best option, and on some days your only option, will be to take the Hiker Shuttle from Estes Park 
  • The Alpine Visitor Center parking lot is busy between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
  • More than eighty percent of park visitors arrive through the east entrances of the park 
  • Camping is popular in the park.  Reserve a campsite up to six months before your visit. The two first-come, first-served campgrounds fill up quickly. Timber Creek Campground, located on the west side of the park, fills up last. 
  • In September, visitation is 50 percent higher on weekends than weekdays 
Two webcams operate at the Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance. The webcams face east, depicting the flow of vehicles entering the park, www.nps.gov/romo/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm 
Fee free days during this summer and fall are August 25 and September 30.  These are typically very busy days in the park.  
For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/romo  

Last updated: April 12, 2017

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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