By Jennifer McRae

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (CBS4)– Rocky Mountain National Park will increase the one-day vehicle pass starting on May 27, before Memorial Day weekend. The pass will be $30, up from $25.

Denver: Entrance to the Rockies in Colorado USA. Rocky Mountain National Park is a United States national park located in north-central Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The eastern and westerns slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the center of the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River located in the park’s northwestern region. The main features of the park include mountains, alpine lakes and a wide variety of wildlife within various climates and environments, from wooded forests to mountain tundra.
(credit: iStock/Getty Images)

The reason for the increase is for the park to improve and maintain high-quality visitor services. RMNP said that recreation fees collected are used to support new projects and the ongoing maintenance of park facilities that are designed to enhance the visitor experience. Congress funds basic park operations with direct appropriations.

RMNP is one of the few national parks that offers a one-day vehicle entrance pass. The day pass was implemented in October 2015. All other park entrance fees, including the seven-day pass, which is $35 per week, and the RMNP annual pass, which is $70 per year, and the America the Beautiful passes will remain the same.

Additional Information from Rocky Mountain National Park:

Winter campground fees will increase from $20 to $30 per night beginning on October 12, 2022. Summer campground fees will increase from $30 to $35 per night beginning the summer of 2023. In addition, group site campground fees will raise $10 for each tier in group size to $50/$60/$70. Increased campground fees will address cost increases related to trash removal, vault toilet and custodial servicing, general site maintenance and snowplow operations in the winter. The Longs Peak Campground, open summers for tents only, will remain $30 per night because there are no flushable toilets and campers need to bring their own drinkable water.

In the fall of 2021, Rocky Mountain National Park staff solicited public input on the proposed fee increases. During the public comment period, the park received 264 formal comments that were related to the park’s proposed fee changes. Most commenters expressed support for the proposed changes to the one-day vehicle entrance pass and front-country campground overnight fees, often highlighting the importance of funding for park maintenance, operation, and resource protection. Commenters who opposed fee increases often cited socioeconomic concerns and affordability for all visitors.

This is a collection of shots that i got during a spring hike up to Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado (credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Park staff are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and providing all visitors with the best possible experience. This fee increase is still an incredible value when considering other comparable family and recreational experiences. These campground fee increases are based on comparable fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds. In addition, 80 percent of those funds stay right here in Rocky to benefit visitors.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the park currently collects entrance and amenity fees. This law allows parks to retain 80 percent of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System.

Some of the projects funded through the collection of entrance station and campground fees at Rocky Mountain National Park include:

  • Hazard Tree Mitigation: The park is among many areas along the Rocky Mountains where trees have been dying from a beetle epidemic. Recreation fee monies have funded extensive mitigation of hazard trees in or near developed areas and other popular park facilities, such as campgrounds, parking lots, road corridors, housing areas and visitor centers.
  • Hiking Trail Repairs and Improvements: Many hiking trail repair projects have been funded by recreation fee monies, such as repairing washed out sections of trail, the installation of bridges, and the installation of vault toilets at heavily used trailheads.
  • Wilderness Campsites Improvements: Rocky Mountain National Parks wilderness campsites are used by thousands of backcountry campers each year. Recreation fee monies help fund the maintenance of these cherished campsites.
  • Bear Management: Park entrance and campground fees help keep bears wild at Rocky Mountain National Park. Thanks in part to fee dollars collected over the past 20 years, 100% of the park’s garbage cans, recycling bins, and dumpsters are now bear-resistant. The park has also gone from zero food storage lockers to 352. Your recreation fees also help support visitor education programs focused on black bears.
  • Restoration of Historic Rock Walls along Trail Ridge Road: The historic rock walls along Trail Ridge Road provide for visitor safety and a visually pleasant drive. Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, recreation fee program funding allows for damaged sections of these rock walls to be restored by Rocky Mountain National Park staff who specialize in rock work.

In 2020, 3.3 million park visitors spent an estimated $224 million in local gateway regions while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, despite the global Covid pandemic, historic wildfires, and the park’s first piloted timed entry permit reservation system. These expenditures supported a total of 3,190 jobs, $121 million in labor income, $208 million in value added, and $342 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park. 2021 visitor spending data, tied to visitation of 4.4 million park visitors, will be available later this year.

Jennifer McRae