Reservation policy to help manage significant visitor increases. 

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has officially announced a two-tiered, timed-entry system for the 2021 summer and fall season. This new reservation policy continues on last year's timed-entry system implemented due to COVID-19, but now offers visitors two choices of what they want to see. 

Visitors can choose to make a timed-entry reservation for the Bear Lake Road corridor or they can choose a timed-entry to access the rest of the park, excluding the Bear Lake Road corridor.

The reservation period will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability. The reservation system will apply to all areas of the park. This system does not include camping reservations, which must be made separately.       

"Park staff are managing for significant increases in visitation to public lands in Colorado, including Rocky Mountain National Park, along with continued Covid-19 concerns, ongoing park seasonal staff shared housing challenges, reduced shuttle bus capacity, and residual fire impacts in some areas of the park from historic fires in 2020," said a press release from RMNP officials.         

Park officials are calling this a temporary pilot system, but there are some concerns that a reservation system will be made permanent in the future due to the year-over-year increases in visitation. Even under COVID-19 restrictions, RMNP was the fourth most visited national park in 2020, with a 28 percent increase in visitation in November and a 38 percent increase in visitation in December over those months in 2019. 

The 2021 reservation system allows for significantly more people in the park than were allowed in 2020, based on 75 to 85 percent of the park's total parking capacity.

At this time, all visitors will still be required to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained, particularly on busy trails, overlooks, pull-offs, etc. 

According to RMNP, reservations to enter the park will go on sale through https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm at 8 a.m. MDT on Saturday, May 1, and will only be allowed for the upcoming month. 

Reservations will be available to enter the park from May 28 through June 30. The next release will be on June 1 for July and any remaining days that have not been booked for June. On July 1, reservations will be available for August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for September and any remaining days in August that have not been booked. On September 1, reservations will be available for October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. 

Initially, 25 percent of permits will be held and available for purchase the day prior at 5 p.m. through https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm. These are expected to sell out quickly and visitors are encouraged to plan ahead when possible.    

Details and updates on park operations and services will continue to be posted on the park’s official website at www.nps.gov/romo.

Will you be visiting RMNP this year? Did you visit it via the reservation last year? Let us know in the comments.