Your Safety is Your Responsibility

Before heading out on any trip, take time to check the weather, make sure everyone in your group is prepared for the anticipated conditions, and be prepared to turn back if conditions change.

For detailed safety tips when recreating in Rocky Mountain National Park, please review the information below:

Winter hikers with traction devices are hiking on a spring day


Be Weather Wise

Weather and conditions can change rapidly when recreating at high elevations in the mountians. From November through May, be prepared for potential snow and cold conditions.

To see the most up to date forecast information on specific locations inside Rocky, visit the park's All About Weather page.

Be prepared for changing conditions and carry these essentials:

  • Winter Gear/Rain Gear
  • Pack extra layers of clothing
  • Map and compass (and know how to use them)
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Extra food and water
  • Pocketknife
  • 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.

A graphic showing a person dressing in layers to protect themselves from the cold and extreme cold.
Dressing for Cold Weather

National Weather Service Graphic

Dressing for Cold Weather

Help protect yourself when going outside when it is cold and extremely cold out.

Dress in layers to help insulate your body. Wear a:

  • Warm hat
  • Windproof/Waterproof Jacket
  • Mittens/Gloves
  • Neck Gaiter
  • Glasses or Goggles to help protect your eyes
NWS Graphic showing how wind chill impacts the body.
The Science of Wind Chill

National Weather Service

Wind Chill

"Wind Chill" is a term used to describe what the air temperature feels like to the human skin due to the combination of cold temperatures and winds blowing on exposed skin.

In simple terms, the colder the air temperature and the higher the wind speeds the colder it will feel on your skin if you're outside. So even if it remains the same temperature, but the wind speed increases it will actually feel colder to your skin.

Before recreating in Rocky, take time to look up what the wind chill is for the day and wear the right gear to help protect yourself from the wind chill.


Elevation & Altitude Sickness

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.

Tonahutu Spur Trail Post Fire
Visitors hiking in a burn area.


Safety Tips when
Recreating in Burn 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

Park staff will continue to assess closed areas on both sides of the park for fire impacts, safety and downed trees, erosion and rock fall.

It is unknown when all park trails impacted by the fires of 2020 will reopen.

For maps and information on current area closures due to fires, visit

Last updated: January 12, 2024

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Contact Info

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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