RMNP is on track for record visit year
loveland» Rocky Mountain National Park is on track to set a record for visitation this year, a trend that continues as popularity of the park grows.
And next year, while the daily and weekly entrance fees will remain the same, the annual fee for the park nestled just outside Estes Park is increasing to $60.
Last year, the park had 4.1 million visitors, the first time it had surpassed 4 million.
“As of the end of November, we were at 4.4 million,” said Kyle Patterson, park spokeswoman. “We should be reaching 4.5 (million) by the end of this year.”
In November alone, the number of people who visited Rocky increased 33 percent over the previous November, likely because of mild weather but also in spite of the main access road, U.S. 34, being closed between Loveland and Estes Park due to permanent repairs from the 2013 floods.
For the rest of this year, though, the Colorado Department of Transportation has lifted that road closure for the holidays, which are a popular time for snow activities at the park. The closure and detours will resume Jan. 3.
And starting Jan. 1, the cost of a yearly pass into the park increases from $50 to $60, a decision that was made in Oct. 2015.
Then, the park created a new pass that is good for one day at a rate of $20 per vehicle or $10 per person, and altered the fees so a seven-day pass costs $30 per automobile, $25 per motorcycle or $15 per person. At that time, officials announced the annual pass increase for Jan. 1, 2017.
Basic operations of the national park are funded through the federal budget with appropriations from Congress, and most of the fees are spent on other enhancements in the park.
“We are able to keep 80 percent of what we collect in fees at Rocky Mountain National Park,” Patterson said. “That was part of a law that went into effect in 1996. They add about $4 million per year to our budget. It’s really significant. With our increased visitation, that will likely go up.”