In an effort to decrease epic traffic, improve the visitor experience and spread out the impact of millions of visitors to the park, Rocky Mountain National Park has launched a reservation system again for 2023.
In summer 2023, timed-entry reservations are required between May 26 and October 22, and are in addition to your entrance fee. You can get your timed-entry reservation for $2 at recreation.gov. Visitors still need to purchase entrance passes or show their annual park pass to enter the park.
You can either get a reservation for the entire park including Bear Lake Road for 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., or the park with no Bear Lake Road access from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Outside of these peak hours, you do not need a reservation.
Reservations are on sale at 10 a.m. MDT on Monday, May 1, 2023 for park entry between May 26 and June 30. On June 1, you can reserve any days for the month of July, and July 1 will be when you can book for August and so on. And those tickets will be flying off the virtual shelves.
The park will make 40% of reservations available at 5 p.m. the day prior to entering the park.
What Should You Do if You Don’t Have a Reservation?
You can still enter the park before or after the reservation hours. Park entrance fees still apply.
Visitors with campground reservations or reservations for guided trips or commercial tours such as horseback riding do not need a timed-entry reservation.
There are two bus options to get you into the park that don’t require a timed-entry reservation. You can either take the Bustang bus from Denver’s Union Station or you can park for free at the Estes Park Visitor Center and take the Hiker Shuttle into the park. Both bus options require ride reservations. Both the bus and the Hiker Shuttle drop off at the park’s Park & Ride where you can transfer to the free shuttle routes inside the park to hike and sight see.
For more information regarding the Timed Entry reservation system, visit www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/time-entry-permit-system.htm.
Why Does Rocky Mountain Need a Timed-Entry System?
Rocky Mountain was the first in the National Park Service system to launch a reservation system in 2020 which kept visitation at 60 percent of capacity. Even with the reservation system, reduced travel because of COVID-19 and two of Colorado’s largest wildfires burning into the park, Rocky Mountain National Park was the fourth busiest park in the nation that year.
And a disproportionate amount of visitation in the past has been to the Bear Lake Road Corridor. To reduce the hordes of people flocking to Bear Lake at the same times, the park created two different reservation systems. The reservation system will keep visitation numbers at between 75% and 85% of park capacity.