ESTES PARK, Colo. — Rocky Mountain National Park ended its timed entry permit system for the season on Tuesday, meaning reservations are no longer required to visit the park.
RMNP said visitors this fall should be prepared for long lines and traffic congestion, particularly on weekends.
Visitors flock to the park every fall to enjoy the autumn leaves and see the elk rut, which lasts from late September to mid-October.
> Video above from October 2021: Elk rut draws crowds to Rocky Mountain National Park
A valid parks pass is still required to enter the park 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Passes are available for purchase online and at the park's entrance stations.
Timed entry permits were required to visit the park during certain times of day from May 27 to Oct. 10 this year. Visitors were required to enter the park during a two-hour window they had reserved in advance.
RMNP said the goal of the timed entry pilot program is to spread visitation out throughout the day to help minimize traffic congestion, lack of parking, visitor crowding and negative resource impacts at trailheads and areas throughout the park.
This season is the third season RMNP has implemented a timed entry pilot program. It's unclear if or when the program will return in 2023.
"The timed entry permit reservation system pilots have been successful at spreading use out throughout the park and throughout the day," a park spokesperson said Wednesday. "We will be evaluating this year's timed entry permit reservation system to determine our 2023 visitor use management during the interim period prior to completion of our long range planning effort."
Rocky Mountain was the fifth-most-visited national park in the U.S. in 2021, with 4.4 million recreational visits. It was surpassed only by Great Smoky Mountains, Zion, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.
Roads in Rocky Mountain National Park are subject to seasonal closures. Old Fall River Road closed to vehicles for the season on Oct. 2. Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved road in North America, remains open for the season but could close at any time due to winter weather conditions. Park visitors can get the latest information on Trail Ridge Road by calling the recorded status line at 970-586-1222.
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