Long line of traffic on Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Day Use Visitor Access Strategy (pre NEPA)

Rocky Mountain National Park » Day Use Visitor Access Strategy (pre NEPA) » Document List

For 107 years, Rocky Mountain National Park has been a place of inspiration, reflection, wonder, history, and wilderness adventure. Park visitors across the United States and the world continue to come to Rocky Mountain National Park to discover a wide variety of experiences found only in this incredible place. Rocky Mountain National Park is also one of the busiest national parks in the National Park Service; third in the country in 2019, with over 4.6 million visitors. Rocky Mountain National Park has experienced a 44 percent increase in visitation since 2012.

Rapid growth in day use visitation and changing use patterns in the park have degraded natural and cultural resources, diminished quality of the visitor experience, increased negative impacts to visitor and staff safety and created a heavy strain on the park's facilities and ability to perform daily operations.

In response to these negative impacts, the park experimented with various visitor use management strategies. From 2016-2019, this included managing vehicle access to first come, first served visitors in the highly congested areas of the Bear Lake Road corridor, the Alpine Visitor Center parking area and the Wild Basin area of the park. This strategy had some limited success initially, but over time began to lose effectiveness; the length of time they were necessary kept expanding and impacts were pushed elsewhere in the park.

RMNP piloted park-wide timed entry permit reservation systems in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Park staff continue to learn from these various pilots which are helping to inform long-range day use visitor access strategies. This includes developing desired conditions, defining zones, and identifying indicators, thresholds, strategies and capacities.

This winter, park staff are seeking the public's continued engagement and input on the park's long-range Day Use Visitor Access Strategy. We hope to hear from members of the public who have recently visited the park, as well as those who have told us they no longer visit Rocky Mountain National Park because of crowding and congestion.

Park staff invite members of the public to submit their comments beginning December 12, 2022, through February 1, 2023.

What is the Purpose?

The purpose of the Rocky Mountain National Park Day Use Visitor Access Strategy is to provide visitor access in a way that enhances the protection of the fundamental resources and values for which the park was created. The goal of the process is to identify strategies that will help protect park resources, offer varied opportunities for high quality visitor experiences, enhance visitor and staff safety, and coincide with the park's operational capacity.

Want to Learn More?

The park hosted a public open house on Tuesday, December 6, from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Estes Park Museum in Estes Park, CO. This open house provided an opportunity to drop in, meet with NPS staff, and learn more about the potential ideas and strategies to address long term day use at RMNP. Park staff did not give formal presentations but interacted with members of the public who dropped in.

The park also hosted a virtual public meeting on Thursday, December 15, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The intent of the virtual meeting was to provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the purpose of the project, key ideas, issues of concern, desired conditions for the park's long-term day use visitor access, potential management strategies, ask questions of NPS staff and get information on how to provide formal written comments. The virtual meeting included a presentation, followed by a question and answer session. The information presented at the open house was the same information presented at the virtual public meeting.

Unable to attend the virtual meeting? A link to the recording of this meeting is posted below. Live captioning of the recording is provided.

Recording of RMNP Virtual Public Meeting on Day Use Visitor Access, Dec. 15, 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7qL8GEW3nU

Park staff encourage public participation throughout the planning process. To submit a public comment, click on "Open for Comment" on the left side of the page and click on the "Submit a Comment" button.

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 US Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment - including your personal identifying information - may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

To learn more about the park's 2021 Day Use Visitor Access Strategy planning presentation and public comments, click on "Document List" on the left side of your screen, then click on each individual folder.

There will be additional opportunities to comment formally on the project during the future NEPA process in 2023.

Contact Information

Park Information, 970-586-1206