gateway to rocky mountain national park
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 350 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. You'll soon find that Rocky is out of this world!
Operating hours and Seasons
While certain roads and facilities may be closed, the Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
SPRING (April–May): Unpredictable weather, with a mix of warm sunny days and cool days with
heavy snow and rain. Many trails are still snow-covered. Trail Ridge Road typically opens in late May.
SUMMER (Jun–Aug): Warmer weather, thunderstorms, and wildflowers. Most Park roads and facilities are open.
FALL (Sep–Nov): Crisp air, blue skies, fall colors, and the elk rut. Trail Ridge Road generally closes mid-October.
WINTER (Dec–Mar): Cold weather, deep snow at higher elevations, and seasonal closures of facilities and roads.
1-Day Pass - Automobile - $25.00
Valid for date of purchase. Covers single, non-commercial vehicle with 16 or fewer passengers.
1-Day Pass - Per Person - $15.00
Valid for date of purchase. Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups.
1-Day Pass - Motorcycle - $25.00
Valid for date of purchase. Covers single motorcycle.
7-Day Pass - Automobile - $35.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Covers single, non-commercial vehicle with 16 or fewer passengers.
7-Day Pass - Per Person - $20.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups.
7-Day Pass - Motorcycle - $30.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Covers one motorcycle.
Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass - $70.00
Unlimited entry for one year from date of purchase.
Rocky Mountain National Park / Arapaho National Recreation Area Joint Annual Pass - $75.00
Unlimited entry to both areas for one year from the date of purchase.
America the Beautiful: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass - $80.00
Unlimited entry to more than 2000 Federal Recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national
parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands,
and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.
BEAVER MEADOWS VISITOR CENTER
Watch a 20-minute park film. Get oriented with the topographical relief map of the Park. Ask a
ranger what to do in the park. Purchase gifts. Handicap accessible and family restrooms available. Free public WiFi.
ALPINE VISITOR CENTER
Feel like you're on top of the world at the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park System. Situated at 11,796 feet (3,595 meters) with
views of mountain peaks and glaciated valleys, this visitor center is the perfect place to learn about the amazing alpine tundra ecosystem.
FALL RIVER VISITOR CENTER
Fall River Visitor Center offers a variety of educational opportunities. Besides planning your visit, park rangers also provide a
variety of ranger-led programs and activities. Exhibits on wildlife survival and management are accompanied by life-sized
bronze sculptures. Downstairs, visitors can explore the Park through the world of art. Donated works from Rocky’s Artist-in-Residence
Program are on display next to a drop-in art studio where visitors they can create their own artistic masterpieces.
KAWUNEECHE VISITOR CENTER
Just north of the town of Grand Lake, the Kawuneeche Visitor Center welcomes visitors to the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Here you will find Park information and maps, backcountry camping permits, exhibits, a Rocky Mountain Conservancy bookstore, park films, and ranger-led activities in season.
MORAINE PARK DISCOVERY CENTER
On Bear Lake Road. Interactive exhibits, nature trail with great views of Moraine Park, bookstore.
SHEEP LAKES INFORMATION STATION
Information and ranger programs. Good wildlife viewing, especially for bighorn sheep.
HOLZWARTH HISTORIC SITE
Tour a 1920's-era dude ranch for a taste of early homesteading and tourism. Buildings are open for tours during the summer. Otherwise, visitors may view the exteriors of the buildings and the grounds.
Rules + Regulations
Rocky Mountain National Park is a federally managed and protected area. In addition to laws and regulations that may apply in many areas of federal jurisdiction, there are park-specific rules intended to maintain public health and safety, protection of environmental or scenic values, provide for equitable use of facilities, protect natural and cultural resources, and avoid conflict among various visitor activities. While it is your responsibility to know and abide by all laws, rules and regulations of this national park, the following are some of the more common questions or issues that arise.
DOGS, CATS AND PETS
Rocky Mountain National Park is a designated natural area where wildlife is free to roam undisturbed. Park visitors should be able to enjoy native wildlife in their natural environment without the disruption or influence of domesticated animals. Pets may accompany you in developed areas such as campgrounds, parking areas and picnic sites but are not permitted on trails or away from roads or parking areas. Where permitted, pets must be under physical control at all times;caged, crated, or restrained by leash no longer than six feet. It is prohibited to leave a pet unattended and tied to an object - It is also illegal to leave pets in a situation where food, water, shade, ventilation and other basic needs are inadequate. So while it is possible for pets to remain in your vehicle while you are viewing attractions near roads and parking areas, it is strongly recommended that a party member remain behind to personally ensure your pet's well-being.
Camping in the park is subject to a fee and is restricted to designated campgrounds or in the backcountry with an overnight wilderness permit. Permits are available at park Wilderness Permit and Information Offices. Campfires are only allowed in certain areas where metal fire rings are provided.
Bicycles are permitted on all roads that are open to motor vehicles, both paved and dirt, unless otherwise posted. There are no designated bicycle lanes along roads. Riding off roads or on trails is prohibited. Cyclists must comply with all traffic laws and signs, including speed limits. In Rocky Mountain National Park, federal law requires that cyclists ride single file at all times; riding abreast is prohibited. A Special Use Permit is required for groups that exceed 25 riders. Any group in excess of 25 riders must plan ahead and contact the Park in advance of the desired trip date.
Vehicles, including bicycles, are restricted to designated roads that are open for travel. Use on trails or off road is prohibited.
Fishing in the Park requires a Colorado fishing license for persons 16 years or older. Persons 12 years old or younger may use bait in waters open to fishing, except in designated catch and release areas. Inquire with a ranger for additional information on fishing regulations including catch and release waters for native trout, closures and restrictions, method of take, etc.
Hunting is prohibited in Rocky Mountain National Park.
FIREARMS + WEAPONS
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearm laws before entering the park. Open carry of handguns and rifles, and transport of the same in vehicles, is permitted. Concealed carry is allowed pursuant to a legal Colorado concealed carry permit and applicable state reciprocity laws. Federal law prohibits firearms in certain facilities (visitor centers, ranger stations, government offices); places that are marked with signs at all public entrances. Recreational target shooting or discharge of a firearm is not allowed. Firearms should not be considered a wildlife protection strategy. Bear spray and other safety precautions are the proven methods for preventing bear and other wildlife interactions. Possessing or carrying a weapon (bow and arrow, crossbow, sling shot, gas or air propelled gun, etc.) is prohibited. Check with the State of Colorado for specific gun laws.
The Park has a large population of free-roaming wild animals, some of which are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Wildlife viewing is encouraged but please do so from a safe distance. Approaching within 25 yards of any wild animal, including nesting birds, or within any distance that disturbs or interferes with their free movement or natural behavior is prohibited.
PROTECTION OF RESOURCES AND FEATURES
Injuring, defacing, removing, digging, destroying, possessing or disturbing natural or cultural resources or features of the park is prohibited. Leave undisturbed for others to enjoy.
Certain areas are closed for public safety and the protection of resources. Please comply with all closure signs and notices.
HIKING AND TUNDRA PROTECTION
Fragile plants are found throughout the Park, some taking hundreds of years to grow. Please remain on designated trails and do not shortcut. Where allowed, if travelling off trail please inquire with a ranger about Leave No Trace ethics and responsible use. Some areas of the alpine tundra are closed to hiking and walking – please comply.
SADDLE AND PACK ANIMALS
Horses, mules, burrows and llamas are allowed on certain designated trails. Roads and developed sites such as picnic areas and campgrounds are closed to stock use. Inquire with a ranger regarding the requirement for weed- free certified feed.
Unmanned aircraft are prohibited from launching, landing or being operated from inside the Park.
MARIJUANA + OTHER CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
Possession or use inside the national park is prohibited. While Colorado provides for regulated possession and use of marijuana it remains an illegal drug under federal law, enforced within the park.
Because a wildfire burned through parts of Forest Canyon, Spruce Canyon, trails in the Fern Lake - Cub Lake area as well as Moraine Park, there are potential hazards to be alert for including: falling trees & limbs - especially during periods of wind, unstable slopes & rolling material such as logs and rocks, burned out stump holes, areas that may still be smoldering or burning and bridges or other trail structures that may be damaged. Off-trail travel is not recommended in burned areas
Falling trees are an ever-present hazard when traveling or camping in the forest. Be aware of your surroudings as trees can fall without warning. Be particularly watchful when it's windy or following a snowstorm when branches are covered with snow. Avoid parking or camping in areas where trees could fall. Remember, safety is your responsibility.
A bright, sunny day can turn windy and wet within a matter of minutes with high winds and driving rain or snow. Be prepared for changing conditions and carry these essentials; rain gear, map and compass, flashlight or headlamp, sunglasses and sunscreen, matches or other fire starter, candles, extra food and water, extra layers of clothing, pocketknife, and a first aid kit.
This increases the chance of dehydration, severe sunburn, mountain sickness (headaches, nausea, dizziness), and the aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions. Drink several quarts of water per day to ward off dehydration. Wear and reapply sunscreen often. If you begin to feel sick or experience any physical problems descend to lower elevations.
Start your hike early in the day, planning to get below treeline or to a shelter before a storm strikes. If caught above treeline, get away from summits and isolated trees and rocks. Find shelter if possible but avoid small cave entrances and overhangs. Crouch down on your heels. When horseback riding, dismount and tie horses securely.
Approaching, feeding, or disturbing wildlife is dangerous - keep a safe distance. All park animals are wild and can injure or kill you. Be aware of what is going on around you. Know how to live with wildlife and what to do if you encounter a mountain lion or bear.
Mountain lion and black bear sightings have increased throughout the park over the past several years. There are no grizzly bear in the park. The lions are an important part of the park ecosystem, helping to keep deer and other prey populations in check, while bear are infamous omnivores which rarely kill animals of any great size for food. Although lion attacks are rare and bear attacks are even more rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal. We offer the following recommendations to increase your safety:
In campgrounds and picnic areas, if there is a food storage locker provided, use it.
Avoid storing food and coolers in your vehicle. If you must, store food in airtight containers in the trunk or out of sight. Close vehicle windows completely.
Do not store food in tents or pop-up campers in campgrounds, or in vehicles at trailheads.
Food, coolers, and dirty cookware left unattended, even for a short time, are subject to confiscation by park rangers; citations may be issued.
All coolers, even those considered bear proof (such as Yeti) must be stored or secured when the site is unoccupied or unattended.
Dispose of garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters and trash cans.
Human-fed bears usually end up as chronic problems and need to be removed - A fed bear is a dead bear.
In the backcountry, store food, scented items, and garbage in commercially available bear-resistant portable canisters.
Pack out all garbage.
Never try to retrieve anything from a bear.
Report all bear incidents to a park ranger.
Do not leave pets or pet food outside and unattended, especially at dawn and dusk. Pets can attract animals into developed areas.
Avoid walking alone.
Watch children closely and never let them run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Talk to children about lions and bears and teach them what to do if they meet one.
What should you do if you meet a Mountain Lion? Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape. Don't run. Stay calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do all you can to appear larger. Grab a stick. Raise your arms. If you have small children with you, pick them up. If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself. If attacked, fight back! Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet, and elusive. The chance of being attacked by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards. There is, for example, a far greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion. Report all incidents to a park ranger.
What should you do if you meet a black bear? Never approach a bear. Keep children beside you. There is more safety in numbers; it is best to travel in a close group. If a bear approaches you, stand up tall, and make loud noises- shout, clap hands, clang pots and pans. When done immediately, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. However, if attacked, fight back! Never try and retrieve anything once a bear has it. Report all incidents to a park ranger.
STREAMS, LAKES + WATERFALLS
They can be deceptively dangerous. Keep your distance. In winter, ice is thinner near inlets and outlets and over fast moving water. Purify drinking water to prevent giardiasis and other water borne diseases.
SNOW + ICE FIELDS
Stay back from steep snow slopes and cornices. Snow avalanche danger is often high. Ask a ranger about current avalanche potential. Know how to recognize dangerous snow conditions.
This is the lowering of the body's core temperature which can be life threatening. It can occur any time of year. Dress warm and stay dry.
This activity requires extensive training, skill, and proper equipment. Do not attempt to rock climb or scramble up steep slopes unprepared.
A serene, snow-covered slope can be beautiful, silent one moment and deadly the next. Avalanches are common and occur regularly during the winter and early spring in Rocky Mountain National Park. Avoid skiing or snowshoeing in gullies, on unforested slopes and under snow cornices where avalanches could occur. Open slopes of 30 to 45 degrees can be loaded with dangerous masses of snow, easily triggered by the presence of one or more backcountry travelers. Consider attending a formal avalanche training session before beginning your trip. Be aware of changing weather that may influence avalanche conditions. Remember, avalanche danger increases during and after snow storms as well as after heavy wind storms. Always wear an electronic transceiver inside your jacket when traversing avalanche terrain and know how to use it. If you are caught in an avalanche, make swimming motions and try to stay on top of the snow. Discard all equipment and try to remain calm. Carrying the following essential items will increase your group's chances of surviving an avalanche: transceivers, portable shovels, probes, ski poles and an avalanche cord. Tragic incidents involving avalanches may be avoided using these precautions. Visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for additional information on avalanche safety and training opportunities.
Giardia is a microscopic organism found in lakes, streams, and possibly snow. It also lives in the digestive systems of wildlife and humans. Giardia enters surface water when animals or humans defecate in or near water. Giardia can cause diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and weight loss. To prevent giardiasis, never drink water directly from a stream or lake. Bring water to a full rolling boil for at least five minutes or use a water filtration system that eliminates this organism.
Plague is endemic to the park and there have been outbreaks here in the past. This disease is transmitted by fleas from infected rodents especially ground squirrels. Do not feed or approach ground squirrels or other small mammals. Symptoms of bubonic plague include swollen lymph nodes and fever, usually developing 1 to 6 days after exposure. Pneumonic plague may develop as the lungs become infected and it is especially dangerous because it may easily be spread by coughing. Untreated bubonic plague is fatal in about 50 percent of the cases.
COLORADO TICK FEVER
This disease is also endemic to the park and may be carried by one-third of the tick population here. Symptoms include malaise and high fever. This disease may go into brief remission, followed by a second bout of fever lasting for several days. Fever will usually be evident four to six days after exposure. The longer a tick stays attached to a person, the greater likelihood for the transmission of any diseases which it may carry. Ticks should be removed carefully, making sure that all of the mouth parts are removed from the bite. Do not squeeze the tick with bare hands so hard as to rupture the tick or drive more toxins into your body.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
This is another disease which is endemic to the park and usually spread through the bite of an infected tick. It is less frequent than Colorado Tick Fever; however, untreated it is fatal in 15-20 percent of cases. High fever, malaise, headache, chills and muscle pain may persist for two to three weeks. The incubation period is usually three to 14 days. About 50 percent of the cases develop a rash of red spots starting on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
This is another reason for not feeding small mammals. No known cases of hantavirus have been reported in this area. However, this disease has killed several people in the southwest corner of Colorado. This disease is spread from the feces and urine of infected rodents, especially the deer mouse. Deer mice are prevalent in the park and our populations do carry the disease.