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Rocky Mountain National Park to bring back timed entry, with changes

The park said there will be some modifications to the reservation system next year.

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Rocky Mountain National Park's (RMNP) timed entry system will be back for a fourth year. 

The park announced Friday it will implement another pilot permit reservation system beginning on May 26, 2023, with some modifications.

The system is similar to the one used this year, with two types of reservations available. One permit will be for the Bear Lake Road Corridor, which includes the entire corridor as well as access to the rest of the park. That reservation period will be from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The second permit excludes the Bear Lake Road Corridor, but covers the rest of the park. The "rest of park" reservation period will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Permits issued through the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within a two-hour window, with no set time to leave the park. The cost for booking a reservation is a $2 processing fee. 

The first reservations will be available through recreation.gov at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 1. That round of reservations will be to enter the park from May 26 to June 30. In June, July, August and September, reservations will be available on the first of each month for the following month. 

One change for next year is making 40% of all reservations available the day prior at 5 p.m., an increase from this year's 30%. Those reservations are expected to run out quickly, so visitors are encouraged to plan ahead when possible. 

Other changes include extending the pilot permit system through Oct. 22 instead of Oct. 10 and reducing the time period and number of hours daily that a "rest of park" reservation is required by one hour.

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.

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 was the third season RMNP has implemented a timed entry pilot program. The park said the program will be in use while they complete their long-range visitor use management plan. 

RMNP 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.


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