Rocky's Timed Entry System Launches Next Week. Here's How To Get In Line
Starting June 4, Rocky Mountain National Park will institute a new timed entry program that requires all visitors to reserve a time slot ahead of their visit. Permits for June and July are available for sale starting Thursday, May 28 at recreation.gov.
Under the plan, groups of visitors will arrive at the park in two-hour windows between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Roughly 5,000 vehicles—or 60% of the park’s normal capacity—will get to enter each day.
Kyle Patterson, a spokeswoman for Rocky, said the system is designed to stagger crowd sizes and promote social distancing on popular trails and lookout spots.
“We’re still in uncertain times,” Patterson said. “Even though we feel like we have some sense of normalcy, there’s gonna be some things that are different.”
Permits for August will be for sale on July 1. September dates will be available in early August.
The change comes more than two months after park staff closed Rocky’s gates to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Staff spent weeks figuring out ways to safely reopen the park.
Under the phased reopening plan, the park’s first visitors returned on Wednesday under a temporary metered system. Rangers wore masks and encouraged visitors to do the same.
Most public restrooms were open, and will continue to be throughout the summer. Most indoor facilities, such as the park’s visitor centers, are closed until further notice.
On reopening day, the Bear Lake trailhead parking lot was half full. Corinne Parkinson drove from Seattle with her family to visit Rocky. She said wearing a mask at the trailhead made her feel safe.
“Once we set out (on the trail) there was no one definitely for miles it felt like,” Parkinson said. “When we saw groups of people, we definitely put (our masks) back on.”
She said it was a relief to visit after spending the last two months stuck at her home in Washington state.
“It’s beautiful,” Parkinson said. “I think everyone’s going a little stir crazy. I just hope we’re all being safe.”