Day Use Visitor Access Strategy (pre NEPA)
In response to these negative impacts, the park has piloted various visitor use management strategies over the last six years. 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.
Park-wide timed entry permit reservation systems were piloted in 2020-2021, and the park will be piloting a similar system again in 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.
In May 2021, park staff held two pre-NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) virtual public meetings on the long-range day use visitor access strategy. The meetings provided opportunities to learn more about the purpose of the project, key issues, desired conditions for day use visitor access, potential management strategies, and to ask questions of National Park Service (NPS) staff. In total, 271 people attended the public meetings. The public meeting recordings for May 25 and May 20, including the presentation and Q & A, are available on the park's You Tube channel. Use the link at left called "Meeting Notices" to watch the recordings (the content was the same for both meetings).
Public comments were invited for over sixty days beginning May 21 through July 26, 2021. During the review period, 571 comment correspondences were submitted to the NPS. Comments were reviewed and evaluated. To learn more about the pre-NEPA long-range day use visitor access strategy, the following reports are available:
1) An Executive Summary of the pre-NEPA Report for Day Use Visitor Access Strategy
2) A pre-NEPA Public Comment Summary for Day Use Visitor Access Strategy
3) A redacted copy of public comments submitted during the comment period
To access the reports, click on "Document List" on the left side of your screen, then click on "Reports from the Pre NEPA Day Use Visitor Access Strategy Civic Engagement."
These initial public comment meetings and comment opportunities are the first step in the long-range planning process. They assist the park staff in defining the issues and their impacts as well as explore possible strategies and alternatives to address those issues.
There will be more opportunities for public involvement in 2023, when the formal NEPA planning process is initiated. Park staff are eager to continue engaging park stakeholders and park visitors near and far to help identify shared values, clarify key issues, and develop potential management strategies to help the park prepare for long-term day use management.
Park Information, 970-586-1206
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest national parks; third in the country in 2019, with over 4.6 million visitors. This represents a 42 percent increase in visitation in seven years, 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.