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Rocky Mountain National Park will begin its reopening phase Wednesday

Rocky Mountain National Park will begin its reopening phase Wednesday
Posted at 11:33 AM, May 26, 2020

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — Rocky Mountain National Park, the most popular National Park in Colorado, announced more details Tuesday morning about its phased reopening, which begins on Wednesday.

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) will reopen with limited services, per guidance from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health officials, park officials said. The park closed to all visitors on March 20.

This phase will begin Wednesday and run until June 3. In this first phase, the park will open about 60% of the park's maximum parking capacity — or 4,800 vehicles — per day.

All visitor centers, as well as the Wild Basin area, will remain closed during this phase.

Regarding camping at the park, Moraine Park and Glacier Basin Campgrounds will partially reopen on June 4, with about half of the total campsites available for reservations. Some of the other campgrounds — including Aspenglen, Timber Creek and Longs Peak Campgrounds — will remain closed until further notice. They may reopen later this summer, park officials said.

READ MORE: Colorado state parks to begin reopening campgrounds after months-long closure

Backcountry backpacking permits will be issued on Wednesday through the fall. Many outlying areas in the park will be open in his phase.

Trail Ridge Road, which extends from the Estes Park side of the park up to the Alpine Visitors Center and down to Grand Lake on the west side of the park, will be restricted on both sides. The road will remain open on the east side up until the Rainbow Curve, and on the west side up to the Colorado River trailhead. The road will reopen fully once park snowplow operators have cleared the roadway, park officials said.

Fall River Road is not open to motorized vehicles during his reopening phase, but bicyclists and pedestrians are welcome to use it.

All park visitors are asked to follow local health orders, and to avoid crowds or high-risk outdoor activities. Staff are reminding visitors to:

  • Keep your distance from other people, whether in a parking lot, at an overlook or on the trail
  • Wear a cloth face mask in restrooms and when you cannot properly socially distance yourself from others (such as on one of the shuttles)
  • Avoid visiting the park if you are sick or were recently — and knowingly — exposed to COVID-19
  • Pack out whatever you bring into the park, including all trash
  • Understand your physical abilities and make responsible decisions. This not only helps visitors, but helps keep first responders out of harm’s way
  • Protect wildlife by giving animals plenty of space. Do not feed them and watch for them while driving, as they’ve started to congregate on park roads more often

RMNP officials said park visitors’ actions will determine if areas of the park stay open or close again.

RMNP is the third-most-visited National Park in the country, attracting more than 4.6 million people last year. Crowds typically spike between late May and early October. Just last July, more than 1 million people visited the park.

Park staff will evaluate the number of visitors and crowding to meter access based on the volume of people in the park. In some cases, visitors may be delayed entering the park, or may be asked to return later.

To help with this, park managers are seeking to implement a timed entry system, which would allow visitors to plan ahead while providing them with a “reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines,” the park said.

On June 4, RMNP will begin the next phase, and will temporarily implement a timed entry system effective June 4. The park will stop using this system down the line.

“We are eager to welcome visitors back to their national park,” said Superintendent Darla Sidles. “This system will more safely manage the pace and flow of visitor use, reduce crowding, and provide an improved visitor experience in alignment with the park’s safe operational capacity.”

To stay up to date with RMNP’s reopening efforts, visit its website here or call the park’s information office at 970-586-1206.