ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Rocky Mountain National Park is beginning a phased reopening on Wednesday.
According to park officials, there will be limited services that include basic park road and trail access. Visitor centers will not be open.
RMNP has been closed since March 20 due to COVID-19. No visitors have been allowed in to drive, hike or camp since.
“It’s a ghost town. It’s truly a ghost town,” visitor Earl Rice said.
Rice and his family visit Estes Park from St. Louis, Missouri every year.
“This thoroughfare right here would be jam-packed,” he said. “Right now you can just cruise right in. You can park anywhere you want.”
Rice is hoping the lack of tourists in town means the park won’t be crowded when it reopens.
“Just on some of the hikes we’ve been on, there really haven’t been that many people. So even day one reopening the park, I really don’t think that that’s going to happen,” he said.
Longmont resident Melyssa Wallace disagrees. She thinks the lines to get in will be “crazy.”
“Because everybody wants to come out and it’s Colorado. We like to be outside,” she said.
Park staff are preparing for the possibility of large crowds.
According to RMNP, “when the park initially reopens, park staff will evaluate the level of visitation, crowding and congestions, and will meter access based on the level of visitation.”
Visitors should expect to wait in line to enter the park. Visitors may also be asked to come back later or another day in order to reduce crowding.
Trail Ridge Road will not be open all the way through until snowplow crews can finish clearing it.
Camping will resume in just two campgrounds beginning June 4. The rest of the campgrounds remain closed.
Additionally, RMNP is asking visitors to keep distance from others, pack out all trash and limit strenuous activities to ease the burden on search and rescue crews.
“Winter-like conditions exist in high elevation areas of the park. Bear Lake currently has 14 inches of snow. During the ongoing health crisis, it is critical to make wise choices to keep our national park rangers and first responders our of harm’s way,” RMNP said in a statement.