Area Closures to Protect Plants & Animals

For information on road and trail status, visit our Conditions and Closures page.

In order to protect the park's resources, the Superintendent may close certain areas of the park throughout the year. Some areas may be closed for weeks or months and some areas in the park are closed year round. This is not an all inclusive list of closures in Rocky Mountain National Park. Closure notices are posted throughout the park. Stop in at a park visitor center to receive updated closure information.

Entering closed areas is a violation of 36 CFR 1.5. Violators are subject to a fine of $5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment.

Bugling bull elk with a group of female elk.
Bull elk can be aggressive during the rut.


Elk Rut Closures
September 1 through October 31

To prevent disturbance and harassment of elk during the fall mating period and to enhance visitor elk-viewing opportunities, closures in Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Harbison Meadow and Holzwarth Meadow are closed to the following acts:

1) Foot travel off established roadways and designated trails, or on closed roadways or trails, daily from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

2) Fishing in those sections of Fall River, Big Thompson River or Colorado River within the areas listed above, daily from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Fragile alpine wildflowers cover the tundra.
Alpine plants can take decades to recover from human trampling.


Tundra Protection Areas

Tundra Protection Areas are designated to restrict use and protect fragile alpine tundra from damage caused by heavy, concentrated foot travel. Off-trail hiking is prohibited within 100 yards of the trails and parking lots in these areas unless otherwise designated. The six designated Tundra Protection Areas are described below:

1) Forest Canyon Overlook - Adjacent to the parking lot and trail on the south side of Trail Ridge Road.
2) Rock Cut - Adjacent to the parking areas on both north and south sides of Trail Ridge Road and along the Tundra Communities Trail corridor.
3) Gore Range Overlook - Adjacent to and below the parking area on the south side of Trail Ridge Road.
4) Alpine Visitor Center - Adjacent to the parking area and Alpine Ridge Trail.
5) Tundra Communities Trail - All areas on either side of the Tundra Communities Trail and it's terminus at Toll Memorial.
6) Alpine View Trail - All areas on either side of the Alpine View Trail and its terminus.

Red-tailed hawk perches on a dead tree.
Closures protect nesting raptors in the park.


Raptor Closures
March 1 through July 31

Each year, from approximately March 1 through July 31, Rocky Mountain National Park initiates temporary closures in certain areas of the park to ensure birds of prey (raptors) will be undisturbed during their breeding and nesting seasons.

Closure notices will also be posted at key access points in the park. As breeding and nesting data are collected, additional closures may be necessary, or closures may be lifted.

The following areas are CLOSED beginning March 1, 2020
Click links for details

Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Lightning Rock, Checkerboard Rock
Thunder Buttress and The Parish
Twin Owls and Rock One

When closed, the closures include the named rock formations and the areas surrounding the base of the formation. This includes all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes, and climber's access trails to the formation.

Areas not listed are presumed to be open. These closures will be lifted or extended as conditions dictate.

Bald Eagle Closure

Colorado River—Closed mid-November through mid-March. Closures will be lifted or extended as necessary.

The Colorado River and a zone 300 yards wide on both sides of the river are closed to human entry from mid-November through mid-March. Hiking on Ranger Meadows Loop trail, outside the closure, is permitted.

This closure is needed to protect bald eagles and their habitat. Approximately 12-15 bald eagles come here each winter to live and hunt for fish along these open sections of the Colorado River. Bald eagles are a protected species. When food is scarce and temperatures are cold, bald eagles waste vital energy fleeing from human disturbance.

For a map of the area, click here.

Your cooperation in obeying this closure is appreciated and required by federal regulations. Violators will be fined and prosecuted.

Bighorn sheep lambs maneuver the steep rocky terrain of the park.
Bighorn sheep depend thrive in steep terrain.


Bighorn Sheep Closures

Seasonal: April 15–August 31

Each year from April 15-August 31, Horseshoe Park and the West Alluvial Fan areas are closed to:

  • Foot travel off established roadways or designated trails.
  • Stopping or parking vehicles within the Bighorn Crossing Zone, unless otherwise directed by Park Staff.

The purpose of this closure is to prevent disturbance and harassment of wildlife, particularly bighorn sheep, while enroute to/from, or while using the natural mineral lick at Sheep Lakes, and to enhance visitor wildlife viewing opportunities.


"The Crater" and surrounding open tundra slopes on Specimen and Shipler Mountains are closed year-round to all travel for the protection of bighorn sheep. View a map of the closure.

Last updated: February 28, 2020

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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