Rocky Mountain National Park Will Reopen in May
The National Park Service has announce a 'phased reopening' beginning May 27, as Colorado's Safer at Home, which limits recreational travel to within ten miles of home, expires May 26.
'In accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities, Rocky Mountain National Park plans to increase recreational access and services on May 27,' the National Park Service said in a press release.
The phased reopening is as follows:
May 27: Bear Lake shuttle will resume (with social distancing and 15-passenger capacity), wilderness camping permits issued through fall
June 4: Moraine Park and Glacier Basin Campgrounds partially reopen
Still closed: Aspenglen, Timber Creek and Longs Peak Campgrounds
The reason the park closed, much like with ski areas, is that the risk of spreading infection comes not from recreating outdoors, but from of out-of-town visitors coming into the Estes Park community near the park.
'While reopening our community to our visitors will be an essential part of our recovery... officials intend for travel to be restricted to essential business and within county limits,' the Estes Valley Safe & Strong COVID-19 Recovery Plan says.
Just minutes outside of Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park can attract thousands of visitors in one weekend, Summit Daily reported. In recent years, the park has become one of the nation's most-popular destinations.
In 2018, over four million people visited, and in that same year, Rocky Mountain National Park moved from fourth to third for most-popular national park in the United States, surpassing Zion. That makes it almost as visited as the Grand Canyon. With that volume of visitors, the park's popularity poses a risk to the surrounding community of Estes Park when people stop for food, gas, etc.
In a May 11 press conference, Polis said ski area openings would be addressed on May 25. In the same conference, he announced that camping can resume in Colorado State Parks, as long as the surrounding communities agree.