Area Closures to Protect Plants & Animals


Why are there Area Closures in Place?

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. Visit 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.

Rough-legged Hawk perched on a tree
Closures protect nesting raptors in the park.


Raptor Closures
February 15 through July 31

Each year, from approximately February 15 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.

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.

Click here to learn more about the 2022 Raptor Closures and to see closure maps.

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.

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

Map of closure area along Colorado River for the protection of Bald Eagles
Map of closure area along the Colorado River for the protection of migrating Bald Eagles


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, areas in Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Harbison Meadow, and Holzwarth Meadow are closed to the following acts from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. daily:

  • Foot travel off established roadways and designated trails or on closed roadways or trails.
  • Fishing in those sections of Fall River, Big Thompson River, or Colorado River within the areas listed above are closed from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Fragile alpine wildflowers cover the tundra.
Alpine plants can take decades to recover from human trampling.


Tundra Closures

Tundra Closures 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.

  • Forest Canyon Overlook
    Adjacent to the parking lot and trail on the south side of Trail Ridge Road.
  • Rock Cut
    Adjacent to the parking areas on both the north and south sides of Trail Ridge Road and along the Tundra Communities Trail corridor.
  • Lava Cliffs
    Adjacent to the parking lot on the north side of Trail Ridge Road and along the cliffs themselves.
  • Gore Range Overlook
    Adjacent to and below the parking area on the south side of Trail Ridge Road.
  • Alpine Visitor Center
    Adjacent to the parking area and Alpine Ridge Trail.
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: January 11, 2023

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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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