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Rocky Mountain National Park’s timed-entry reservation system is becoming a forever thing

The system started as a pilot program at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2021
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Posted at 2:40 PM, May 31, 2024

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — Coloradans holding out hope that timed-entry reservations would eventually be phased out at Rocky Mountain National Park are in for a rude awakening.

That’s because the national park’s timed-entry reservation system – first implemented at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to address overcrowding on the trails, ongoing housing challenges with park seasonal staff and residual wildfire impacts – was adopted as a permanent system by the National Park Service (NPS) on Thursday.

Talk about a new normal, eh?

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Though first implemented in early 2021, the plan to manage the record-breaking number of visitors at Colorado’s most renowned national park began all the way back in 2016. The management strategy – officially known as the Day Use Visitor Access Plan – was “finalized” after 8 years on Thursday, following “culmination of extensive planning, public engagement, and managed access pilots,” according to Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.

“The plan establishes two timed entry reservation systems from late-May through mid-October, one for the Bear Lake Road Corridor and one for the rest of the park. This is similar to what the park has piloted the last three summers and is the current operational plan for this summer,” Patterson said in a news release Thursday. “The reservation systems have been successful at spreading visitor use out throughout the day and throughout the park.”

This year, timed-entry reservations for most areas of the national park will be in place through Oct. 14. Reservations to access the Bear Lake corridor will run through Oct. 20, according to the NPS.

If you’re looking to get a reservation or learn more about this year’s timed-entry schedule, head to recreation.gov.