ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials with Rocky Mountain National Park are looking for feedback on how to handle growing crowds. The park has experienced a 44% increase in visitors since 2012, and some people say they no longer visit the park because of the crowding and congestion.

“The 1990 Colorado is unfortunately gone. It’s incumbent for us to manage for the new reality of our current and future generation,” said Park Superintendent Darla Sidles.

Horseshoe Park in Rocky Mountain National Park

(credit: Irmelin Shively)

Park officials say the extreme growth degraded natural resources and has a negative affect on visitor experience.

The booming popularity of RMNP has created a strain on the park’s facilities and the ability to perform daily operations.

RELATED: ‘These Are Resource Problems’: Estes Park Man Objects Timed Entry System At Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain National Park Day Use Visitor Access Strategy seeks to provide access in a way that protects the park’s resources and the values for which it was created.

“We hope to hear from current park visitors as well as those who have told us they no longer visit Rocky Mountain National Park because of crowding and congestion,” said Sidles.

Visitors can expect another reservation system for park entry this summer. Park officials are looking for community input on long term solutions to mitigate crowding.

RELATED: U.S. News & World Report Lists Estes Park As One Of USA’s Best Mountain Towns To Visit

Valerie Thompson, owner of You Need Pie! In Estes Park, says many customers shared with her how difficult it was to make a reservation last summer.

“What I would like to see long-term are maybe more entrance points, so that we don’t have these long lines. That way we don’t have people waiting quite so long. That could certainly be a frustration if you’re just trying to go enjoy the mountains,” said Thompson.

(credit: CBS)

“Personally, I am not in favor of the reservation system. I don’t think that 400 square miles of national park really needs to be regulated at a gate.”

The park will host the second of two virtual meetings on May 25 at 2 p.m. To participate, you can register here. (RMNP wrote in a news release: “After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. It is recommended to join the webinar via computer to have full use of the webinar tools that GoToWebinar provides.”)

Public comments are invited for sixty days beginning May 21 through July 19, 2021.


Tori Mason