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COVID-19 Precautions

Rocky is modifying visitor services to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Some facilities and events will be closed or cancelled. Check locally for current information and continue to follow CDC guidelines. As circumstances continue to change and we modify our operations as necessary, we thank you for your patience and cooperation.

When recreating, park visitors should follow local area health orders and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities. Please don’t visit if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19. Park staff will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

  • Keep your distance. Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail or in a parking lot.
  • Keep it with you. If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Know your limits. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest search and rescue parks in the country. Many of these incidents could be avoided with visitors planning and making responsible decisions. Winter-like conditions exist in high elevation areas of the park. Bear Lake currently has 14 inches of snow. During the ongoing health crisis, it is critical to make wise choices to keep our national park rangers and first responders out of harm’s way.
  • Protect wildlife. Obey speed limits and be aware of wildlife.



A serene, snow-covered slope can be beautiful one moment and deadly the next. Avalanches are common and occur regularly during the winter and early spring in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Avoid skiing or snowshoeing in gullies, on unforested slopes and under snow cornices where avalanches could occur. Remember to look up when you are traveling at the base of steep, snow-covered terrain.
  • Open slopes of 30 to 45 degrees can be loaded with dangerous masses of snow, easily triggered by backcountry skiers, snowshoers, hikers, or even wildlife.
  • Consider attending a formal avalanche training session before beginning your trip. Be aware of changing weather that may influence avalanche conditions. Remember, avalanche danger increases during and after snow storms as well as after heavy wind storms.
  • Always wear an electronic transceiver inside your jacket when traversing avalanche terrain and know how to use it.
  • If you are caught in an avalanche, make swimming motions and try to stay on top of the snow. Discard all equipment and try to remain calm. Carrying the following essential items will increase your group's chances of surviving an avalanche: transceivers, portable shovels, and probes.
  • To learn about avalanche safety and backcountry forecasts, visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's webpage.
  • Want to learn more? Visit Rocky's Avalanche Awareness webpage.

Burned Areas

Park visitors should be aware of additional hazards when recreating in burn areas including:

  • Burned-out stump holes where the ground may be weak and unstable
  • Unstable dead trees, especially in windy conditions
  • Loose rocks, logs and rolling debris
  • Flash flooding and significant debris flow possible in burn areas
  • Dry, hot conditions with little forest canopy to provide shade

Off-trail travel is not recommended in burned areas.


This activity requires extensive training, skill, and proper equipment. Do not attempt to rock climb or scramble up steep slopes unprepared.


Altitude sickness affects many visitors every year. Symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, and even unconsciousness. Altitude can also aggravate pre-existing conditions like heart and lung disease. Take your time, drink water, eat, and rest. The only cure for altitude sickness is to go down to a lower altitude.

Falling Trees

Falling trees are an ever-present hazard when traveling or camping in the forest. Be aware of your surroundings as trees can fall without warning. Be particularly watchful when it's windy or following a snowstorm when branches are covered with snow. Avoid parking or camping in areas where trees could fall.


Mountain Weather

A bright, sunny day can turn windy and wet within a matter of minutes with high winds and driving rain or snow. Be prepared for changing conditions and carry these essentials; raingear, map and compass, flashlight or headlamp, sunglasses and sunscreen, matches or other fire starter, candles, extra food and water, extra layers of clothing, pocketknife, and a first aid kit.

Snow and Ice Fields

Stay back from steep snow slopes and cornices. Snow avalanche danger is often high. Ask a ranger about current avalanche potential. Know how to recognize dangerous snow conditions.


Lightning regularly strikes in Rocky. No outdoor place is safe when lightning strikes. Check the forecast before heading out. Watch for building storm clouds. Plan activities so you can quickly return to your car if a storm begins. If hiking, plan to return to the trailhead before noon. Return to the trailhead immediately if you hear thunder.


At Rocky, all four seasons can happen in a single day. Don’t let cold, wet weather ruin your trip. Bringing a few extra clothing items will keep you more comfortable and safe. Hypothermia can happen any time of year. Watch for sleepiness, impaired judgment, lots of shivering, and slurred speech.

Streams, Lakes and Waterfalls

Streams, lakes, and waterfalls can be deadly. Park waters are frigid. Powerful currents can knock you over and pull you downstream or underwater, where you may become trapped. Streamside rocks are often slippery, and nearby water may be deep. Always closely supervise children around all water but especially near rivers and streams. Water from lakes and streams isn’t safe to drink unless you treat or filter it first.

High Water Advisory

Due to rapid snow melt, rivers and streams in Rocky are running very high. Each year, there are rescues directly associated with unprepared victims finding themselves in the water from falling while hiking, crossing streams, or scrambling on rocks. To stay safe:

  • Stay out of rivers and creeks.
  • Stay away from rock adjacent to rivers; wet rock is extremely slick.


Keep a safe distance from wildlife—it’s the law. Never feed wildlife, including birds and chipmunks. It’s illegal. It makes the animals unhealthy. You could be bitten, scratched, kicked, thrown, or trampled. If you see a bear or mountain lion, stop, stay calm, and back away. Never turn your back or run away. Stand tall and raise your arms to look large. Pick up small children.

Bears and Mountain Lions

Mountain lion and black bear sightings have increased throughout the park over the past several years. There are no grizzly bears in the park. Mountain lions are an important part of the park ecosystem, helping to keep deer and other prey populations in check, while bears are infamous omnivores which rarely kill animals of any great size for food. Although lion attacks are rare and bear attacks are even more rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal. To increase your safety:

  • In campgrounds and picnic areas, if there is a food storage locker provided, use it.
  • Avoid storing food and coolers in your vehicle. If you must, store food in airtight containers in the trunk or out of sight. Close vehicle windows completely.
  • Do not store food in tents or pop-up campers in campgrounds, or in vehicles at trailheads.
  • Food, coolers, and dirty cookware left unattended, even for a short time, are subject to confiscation by park rangers; citations may be issued.
  • All coolers, even those considered bear proof must be stored or secured when the site is unoccupied or unattended.
  • Dispose of garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters and trash cans.
  • Human-fed bears usually end up as chronic problems and need to be removed - A fed bear is a dead bear.
  • Permits are required to camp in the park. When camping in the wilderness between April 1 and October 31, all food items, scented items and garbage must be secured inside a hard sided commercially-made carry in/carry out bear-resistant food storage container.
  • Pack out all garbage.
  • Never try to retrieve anything from a bear.
  • Report all bear incidents to a park ranger.
  • Do not leave pets or pet food outside and unattended, especially at dawn and dusk. Pets can attract animals into developed areas.
  • Avoid walking alone.
  • Watch children closely and never let them run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Talk to children about lions and bears and teach them what to do if they meet one.

What should you do if you meet a black bear?
Never approach a bear. Keep children beside you. There is more safety in numbers; it is best to travel in a close group. If a bear approaches you, stand up tall, and make loud noises- shout, clap hands, clang pots and pans. When done immediately, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. However, if attacked, fight back! Never try and retrieve anything once a bear has it. Report all incidents to a park ranger.

What should you do if you meet a Mountain Lion?
Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape. Don't run. Stay calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do all you can to appear larger. Grab a stick. Raise your arms. If you have small children with you, pick them up. If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself. If attacked, fight back! Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet, and elusive. The chance of being attacked by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards. There is, for example, a far greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion. Report all incidents to a park ranger.


Plague is a disease caused by a bacterium that can be found among wildlife and in rare cases, occur in humans when humans and wild rodents come into contact. Rats, prairie dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels, and other small mammals are the carriers of the plague organisms. Humans become infected by being bitten by a flea that has previously fed on a carrier mammal or by coming into close contact with an infected animal.

Clinical signs of plague depend on the mode of transmission and can develop 2-6 days after exposure. Infections in humans and animals can be fatal without early treatment by a physician. Symptoms include, swelling at the bite site, swollen or ulcerating lymph nodes/glands, fever, chills, aches, cough, pneumonia, and systemic illness.

View wildlife from a safe distance, avoid direct contact with animals, and use insect repellent. Never approach or touch a sick or dead animal. Please report dead animals to a park ranger. Learn more on the animal-transmitted diseases webpage.

Last updated: May 24, 2022

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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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