Rocky Mountain National Park reopens despite government shutdown


Rocky Mountain National Park

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DENVER -- Rocky Mountain National Park reopened Saturday after being closed due to the partial federal government shutdown.

As soon as the clock struck noon, a line of cars starting forming at the park's entrance.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday the state will pay for the park to stay open as long as the shutdown lasts. It will cost $40,300 a day to pay park service employees to operate the park.

So far the state and the Department of the Interior have only agreed to a 10-day opening, which will cost $362,700 in total.

Trail Ridge Road will also reopen as soon as the highway can be plowed, Brown said.

Trail Ridge Road through the RNMP is one of the more popular routes to the town of Estes Park, which was one of the cities most damaged by the flooding a month ago.

“This reopening is critical to ongoing recovery efforts after last month’s flooding,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Trail Ridge Road provides a vital access point to Estes Park. Plus, the reopening of the park will help businesses in the area that have suffered a one-two punch after the flooding and federal government shutdown.”

The state will initially use money from the Colorado Tourism Office to operate the park and will seek reimbursement from the federal government, Brown said.

Fees will still be charged and collected and the park will be on normal operating hours, he said.

Hickenlooper toured Estes Park Wednesday and vowed to reopen RMNP.

“The flood impact has been difficult for our residents and businesses and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park was a huge economic blow just as we were pulling together toward recovery,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham.

Along main street most businesses are back open, some even advertising flood sales, but small business owners told FOX31 that customers weren't coming back because of the park closure.

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