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There were little to no lines getting into Rocky Mountain National Park during a partial reopening on May 27, 2020, in Estes Park.
There were little to no lines getting into Rocky Mountain National Park during a partial reopening on May 27, 2020, in Estes Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is adding an online reservation system that visitors must use if they want to access the park in an attempt to mitigate crowds during the coronavirus outbreak.

The new “timed entry system,” as the park is calling it, goes into effect June 4. It’s only temporary, though, and will be removed later on as the park gradually reopens.

“We are eager to welcome visitors back to their national park,” Superintendent Darla Sidles said in a press statement. “This system will more safely manage the pace and flow of visitor use, reduce crowding, and provide an improved visitor experience in alignment with the park’s safe operational capacity.”

RELATED: As Rocky Mountain National Park starts to reopen this week, here’s what will be available and what won’t

RMNP reopened its gates on Wednesday. The reopening comes during what is typically the park’s busy season, which lasts from late May to early October.

This new system will allow roughly 13,500 visitors a day, according to the park. RMNP is only opening 60% of its parking, which comes out to 4,800 vehicles a day. Park staff will be monitoring the new reservation system, though, and adapt it when necessary.

Notably, bicyclists will not have to worry about making a reservation. They will still have to pay a typical daily permit fee, though.

How reservations will work

Anyone hoping to visit the park will have to make a reservation, which comes in two-hour windows available from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although you must arrive within that window, there is no time limit on how long you can be in the park.

Reservations can only be made online at or through the national parks’ app. Make sure to print out a copy of your permit, especially if going to an outlying area of the park, where permits will need to be placed on the dashboard.

Reservation dates will become available in rolling chunks. For example, starting Thursday, May 28, you can make reservations for June 4 through July 31. On July 1, August dates will become available. On Aug. 1, September dates will become available. So on and so forth.

This new system isn’t completely tossing last-minute park trips, though. Ten percent of a day’s total reservations will only go on sale two days ahead of time, and they’ll stay available up until the time slot — unless the day sells out. 

A typical reservation comes with a $2 fee on top of the daily $25 permit or park pass. If you have a camping reservation, that will count as your reservation. 

Find more information about the new reservations on the Rocky Mountain National Park website.

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