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Why Rocky Mountain National Park’s new online reservation system is only a short-term fix

Attendance has soared by 1.5 million since 2012, leading the park to introduce temporary measures to manage visitors

Zach Bright
The Colorado Sun
View of Rocky Mountain National Peak from Peak-to-Peak Highway, May 20, 2021, near Estes Park, CO.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

After years of worsening crowding turned one of the state’s most pristine places into rush hour gridlock, Rocky Mountain National Park’s new timed-entry permit system is slowing the surge of summer visitors. But the system only runs until Oct. 11, a temporary fix to problems caused by a 44% increase in visitors to the third-busiest national park in the country.

Rocky Mountain National Park welcomed around 4.6 million travelers in 2019, up 1.5 million from 2012. Its growing popularity has congested certain areas — particularly Bear Lake, Wild Basin, and the Alpine Visitor Center — and more visitors are degrading natural and cultural resources.

The overcrowding diminishes the quality of experiences, increases safety concerns, and strains park facilities, park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said. That led the park to develop new ways to manage its guests.



“Our timed-entry permit system’s main goal is to spread use out throughout the day as well as spreading use throughout the park,” Patterson said.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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