ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Adventurers planning to explore the alluring trails and mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park this year will have to plan on bringing a little extra cash as the park is increasing its fees beginning in late May.
One-day vehicle pass increase:
Starting May 27, RMNP will increase the one-day vehicle pass from $25 to $30.
While park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress, the park states this fee increase is necessary for overall improvement and ongoing maintenance projects that directly enhance the visitor experience.
Although RMNP is one of the few national parks with a one-day vehicle entrance pass, the fee is not new. The day pass was implemented back in October of 2015. The fee increase will not affect the RMNP seven-day pass, annual pass or any of the America the Beautiful passes.
Campground fee increase:
Winter campground fees are also rising. On Oct. 12, 2022, the campground fees will go from $20 per night to $30. The park is planning to raise summer campground fees from $30 to $35 a night but that increase will not go into effect until the summer of 2023.
According to the park, the increased campground fees will address the cost increase of trash removal, custodial servicing, general site maintenance and snowplow operations during the winter months.
Projects funded through fees:
According to the park, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act is the legislation that allows the park to collect entrance and amenity fees. The park retains 80% of the money collected for use on projects, the remaining 20% is shared across the National Park System.
The current projects funded through the fee collection at RMNP are:
- Hazard tree mitigation: The park contains vast areas where trees have been dying due to the beetle epidemic. The fees have funded the mitigation of hazardous trees in developed areas such as campgrounds and visitor centers.
- Hiking trail repairs and improvements: According to the park, many hiking trail improvements have been funded through recreation fees. Crews have been able to repair washed-out sections of trails and install bridges and vault toilets in heavily populated trailheads.
- Wilderness campsite improvements: The park states that its wilderness campsites are used by thousands of backcountry campers each year. Fees fund the maintenance of these popular sites.
- Bear Management: The money collected from park fees directly keeps bears wild at RMNP. According to the park, over the past 20 years of the collection of fee dollars, 100% of the park’s garbage cans, recycling bins and dumpsters are now bear-resistant. The park has also added 352 food storage lockers.
- Restoration of historic rock walls along Trail Ridge Road: The historic rock wall along one of the most iconic trails in RMNP is provided for visitor safety. The funding from fees allows for damaged sections of the wall to be restored.
RMNP reached out for public input on the proposed fee increases back in the fall of 2021, and according to their research, most commenters expressed support for the one-day vehicle and camping fee raises. The survey respondents recognized the importance of funding for the park and the cost it takes to run the facilities.
As more and more outdoor enthusiasts venture to RMNP from all corners of the world, the park is continuing to grow its staff and preservation. From the 2020 numbers shared by the park, 3.3 million people spent $224 million while visiting RMNP, all of this despite the COVID pandemic and historic wildfires.
These numbers have supported 3,190 jobs, $121 million in labor income and $342 million in economic output to the areas surrounding RMNP.
About 4.4 million people visited RMNP in 2021 and the park continues to expect an increase in visitors and income as more and more travelers venture to explore the beauty found in Colorado’s backyard.