Latest News for a Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

May 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

As of Friday, May 24, 2024, Rocky Mountain National Park has started their timed entry reservation system for the spring, summer and fall season. 

There are a few changes this year but for the most part, the process is the same. Here is the latest for the reservations. Please note that the National Park Service and Rocky Mountain National Park management can make changes at any time based on the needs of the system and the park. These tips and the information are current as of Friday, May 24, 2024. 

Road openings

As of May 24, 2024, most roads in Rocky Mountain National Park are open, excluding Trail Ridge Road between Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Rainbow Curve on the east side. This is new as of today; I captured this photo on the evening of Thursday, May 23 when Trail Ridge Road was still closed at Many Parks Curve.

Trail Ridge Road road usually opens by Memorial Day Weekend but due to the recent heavy snows and forecasts for more snow, the road will remain closed this weekend and until further notice. So, although this means that crossing the park is not an option (and requires a three hour drive around to Grand Lake via U.S. Interstate 70) there are plenty of other places to explore now that their access roads are open, like Beaver Meadows, Endovalley and Wild Basin.

The other road that remains closed is Old Fall River Road, which typically opens near the Fourth of July. 

Timed entry reservations

They're back! The timed entry reservations have returned for the 2024 season in Rocky Mountain National Park.

New this year is a move from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. MDT for the release of the available tickets the day before the reservation. For example, if you want to visit on Sunday, May 26, reservations will be released at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. 

Another new feature this year is the extension of the season for Bear Lake Road, otherwise known as the Timed Entry + reservation. For this corridor only, which runs from the start of Bear Lake Road just inside the Beaver Meadows Entrance to Bear Lake, and includes destinations like Moraine Park, Sprague Lake, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Storm Pass, Bierstadt Lake, Bear Lake and Dream Lake, reservations are required from Friday, May 24, 2024 to Sunday, October 20, 2024. This is one week longer than the timed entry reservation season for the remainder of the park.

Similar to 2023, the timed entry reservation for the Bear Lake Road corridor (Timed Entry +), runs from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Reservations are sold in two-hour windows (5-7 a.m., 6-8 a.m., 8-10 a.m., 10 a.m.-12 p.m., 12 p.m.-2 p.m., 2-4 p.m., 4-6 p.m.). Reservation holders must enter the Bear Lake Road corridor within their two-hour window. Once a visitor has had their reservation marked (done when entering during the two-hour window) and leaves the corridor, they can only re-enter the Bear Lake Road corridor after 2 p.m. that same day. 

There continues to be two types of reservations. The Bear Lake Road corridor, mentioned above and called Timed Entry +, and the rest of the park, which is referred to as Timed Entry Reservation. 

The latter reservation covers entry between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for all areas of the park except the Bear Lake Road corridor, providing access to areas like Wild Basin, Lumpy Ridge, Lily Lake, Beaver Meadows, Endovalley and Horseshoe Park. These too are sold in two-hour windows (9 to 11 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 12-2 p.m.). Visitors must enter within their two-hour window. After 2 p.m., reservations are not required to enter any area of the park, except for the Bear Lake Road corridor. This reservation is required from May 24 to Monday, October 14.

Reservations are available for sale at Recreation.gov. Search for Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry, select your date and follow the prompts. Save time by logging into your account prior to reserving tickets and add your credit card information to your account.

Reservations go on sale at 8 a.m. MDT on the first of each month for the following month. For example, reservations for a July date are released at 8 a.m. on June 1, reservations for an August date are released July 1, and so on. A portion of available reservations are released the day before a visit at 7 p.m.

A parks pass is also required in addition to the timed entry reservation. Passes can be purchased for a single day, seven days, an annual Rocky Mountain National Park or an annual Federal Recreations Pass, the best deal if you visit Rocky or other federal lands frequently (it covers more than just national parks). Passes can be purchased at the entrance gate but gate attendants can only accept credit cards; cash is no longer an accepted form of payment.

Construction projects

Construction continues in Rocky Mountain National Park and in Estes Park. The Fall River Entrance gate continues to come along in its development but the project is not yet complete. As a result, the park advises using the Beaver Meadows Entrance (South Entrance) until further notice to prevent backups and frustration in a long queue on Fall River. 

Moraine Park Campground also remains closed due to an extensive construction project to replace water, sewer and electrical lines in the campground as well as out to the Beaver Meadows Entrance, Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and nearby employee housing. This is the park's largest campground and an opening date is yet to be announced. The closure will continue to impact available campsites within the park but many options are available in Estes Park, including Marys Lake Campground, East Portal Campground and the KOA Campground.

Within the town of Estes Park, a substantial construction project continues to create The Loop, a bypass that is designed to reduce traffic congestion through downtown Estes Park. Patience will be needed to navigate the cones in downtown Estes Park this summer. There are many alternative routes and construction updates can be found at VisitEstesPark.com. There is also a free shuttle around downtown Estes Park that can be picked up at the Visitor Center, where there is free parking in the lot and in the parking garage.

Elk calves are coming

I have yet to see a baby calf this year but they must be out there. Memorial Day Weekend is the beginning of the two weeks when the most calves are born. Keep an eye out in town and in Moraine Park in the park.

Bull elk still seem to be preferring the habitat outside of the park, roaming around the fringes of the park, meadows and yards of Estes Park and even in the canyons. Their antlers are growing quickly, with the biggest bulls having antlers that are already revealing four and five points on each side.

Spring greens

Although it seems like the green leaves on the aspen trees have arrived a little later this year, they have finally started to arrive. The first signs of greening up can be seen in the lower valleys of Rocky Mountain National Park, like this view in Endovalley from the afternoon of May 23. More green will come, especially with the abundant moisture that has fallen in recent weeks, and wildflowers will be blooming throughout the park soon. Flowers to keep an eye out for now are pasque flowers, the short purple flowers that are the first to bloom each season, and the first of the golden banner flowers have started to open in low-elevation meadows.

Enjoy your visit and remember to be patient with the attendants at the gates. They are doing their job and are there to help you enjoy the park as well.


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