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Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry Permits

What you need to know, and what is true about the timed entry permits into Rocky Mountain National Park

First, let's be clear...

RMNP is not trying to keep people out. They are trying to be more kind to our beautiful park.

Rocky Mountain National Park timed entry permits are in place to allow those who think ahead to get in, and also to preserve our amazing park. The system allows everyone to be in, just not all at once.

SEE BELOW FOR WAYS TO HACK THE SYSTEM. (once again, local knowledge is key!)

Why do Rocky Mountain National Park timed entry permits even exist?

From their site: “Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest national parks, third in the country in 2019 with over 4.6 million visitors. This represents a 42 percent increase in visitation in seven years.

Visitor crowding and congestion at RMNP have led to increased negative impacts to visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experience and operational capacity. The park has piloted various visitor use management strategies over the last six years, including managing vehicle access to first-come, first served (2016-2019) in highly congested areas.

These first-come, first-served restrictions had some limited success initially, but over time began to lose effectiveness: length of time they were necessary kept expanding and impacts were pushed elsewhere.

The park piloted different park wide timed entry permit reservation systems (2020-2021) and will be piloting a system again in 2022.

The park is learning from these different actions since 2016, to help inform long range day use visitor access strategies.”

What times do you need a timed entry permit?

One permit will be for the Bear Lake Road Corridor, which will include the entire corridor and access to the rest of the park (see correlating Infographic A).

  • This reservation period will be from 5 a.m. (MDT) to 6 p.m. (MDT).
  • Reservations are not required on the Bear Lake Road Corridor before 5 am or after 6 pm.

The second permit will be for the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park, excluding the Bear Lake Road corridor (see correlating Infographic B).

  • This reservation period will be from 9 a.m. (MDT) to 3 p.m. (MDT).
  • Reservations are not required for this area prior to 9 am or after 3 pm.
  • 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.

OK, LET'S HACK THIS!!

How can we still get into RMNP without a timed entry permit?

You will notice that the above paragraph mentions when you will need a permit to get in.

Did you notice when you didn’t need one?

If you are going to the Bear Lake corridor you won’t need a permit before 5am or after 6pm. 

 

If you are going to the rest of RMNP, you won’t need a permit before 9am and after 3pm.

While the Bear Lake corridor is kind of restricted (go in the evening after six, it’s prettiest then anyway!), the rest of the park is open for eighteen of the twenty four hours of the day!!

ONE MORE THING...

As full time photographers living in Estes Park, we own a CUA, also known as a Commercial Use Authorization. While this may not sound that exciting to you, what it means is that…

 

IF YOU ARE WITH US YOU DON’T NEED A TIMED ENTRY INTO RMNP!!

OUR CUA GETS OUR CLIENTS IN WITH US. ALL YOU NEED IS YOUR REGULAR PARK PASS.

(more about us here)

rocky mountain national park timed entry permits

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