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 announced it will launch a reservation system for 2022.
In summer 2022, timed-entry reservations are required between May 27 and October 10, 2022, and are in addition to your entrance fee. You can buy your timed-entry reservation for $2 at recreation.gov. Visitors must still purchase entrance passes, which are $25 per vehicle, or show their annual park pass to enter the park.
So, what’s a timed-entry day pass and why does the park offer two different passes? If you want to visit the Bear Lake Road Corridor of Rocky Mountain National Park in summer 2022, you need to purchase a ticket in advance on recreation.gov. Reservations go on sale at 10 a,m. MDT on Saturday, May 2 for park entry between May 27-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. If the park has sold out for the day you want to visit, you can enter the Bear Lake Road Corridor area before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
If you want to avoid the popular Bear Lake Road Corridor, buy a separate timed-entry pass to explore the rest of the park. Or you can enter the park before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. The park has left some openings for people to purchase reservation tickets at 5 p.m. the day prior to entering the park. You can learn more here.
In 2020, the park was the first in the National Park Service system to launch a reservation system that 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 in 2020.
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 has two different reservation systems—one for the entire park and one for the park minus the Bear Lake Road Corridor. The reservation system will keep visitation numbers at between 75-85 percent of park capacity.
Visitors with campground reservations may use those reservations for entry.
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. Another option is to take public transportation. There are two 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 to the park or you can park for free at the Estes Park Visitor Center and take the Hiker Shuttle into the park. Both options require their own reservations. Both the bus and the 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.