Rocky Mountain National Park, a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, faces additional challenges for visitors in the upcoming season.
With an ongoing timed-entry reservation system and the closure of the park’s largest campground, a new obstacle has arisen in construction delays at the Fall River entrance, one of the main entrances on the east side of the park in Estes Park.
Originally slated to be completed by late June, the construction project to refurbish the Fall River entrance has encountered unforeseen site conditions and utility coordination challenges, pushing the completion date to late fall.
As a result, park officials are urging visitors entering the park’s east side to use the Beaver Meadows entrance instead. However, they caution that both entrances are likely to experience “extended wait times,” a situation that may further inconvenience park visitors.
The need for improvements to the Fall River entrance is evident, as the existing facilities, which date back 60 years, no longer meet the safety or operational needs of the park.
The park has experienced a significant increase in visitation, with annual visitation almost tripling from approximately 1.5 million visitors in the past to over 4.5 million visitors in 2019. According to park officials, improvements are necessary to enhance visitor access and convenience, reduce traffic congestion, and provide a safe and efficient space for park employees.
In addition to the construction delays, Rocky Mountain National Park continues implementing a timed-entry reservation system to prevent crowding, first introduced in 2020 during the pandemic.
The system returned in 2021 as a “pilot program” to manage the park’s explosive growth in visitation and was also in effect in 2022. It is set to be in place again this year from Memorial Day weekend through October 22, and there is a possibility that it may become a permanent feature in the future.
Furthermore, the closure of the Moraine Park campground, the largest campground in the park, due to an improvement project will further impact camping options for visitors. With 244 campsites unavailable, only 202 developed campgrounds will be open on the east side of the park, limiting accommodation choices for those planning to stay overnight.
As the summer season approaches, Rocky Mountain National Park visitors should be prepared for the various challenges they may encounter, including potential delays due to the construction delays at the Fall River entrance, the timed-entry reservation system, and limited camping options.
Park officials are working diligently to address these issues and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, but it is advisable to plan ahead and stay updated on any changes or updates before embarking on a trip to the national park.