Rocky’s reservation system
In order to protect the park and create a better experience for guests, Rocky Mountain National Park has a reservation system from May 26 too Oct. 22, 2023.
This means you will have to plan ahead and make your reservations to visit Rocky in advance, or go into the park before or after the reservation times. However, fewer people in the popular areas means a better experience for you and lighter traffic on the trails.
Another option is to take a guided trip with on of our outfitters.
There will be two types of reservations available: one for the Bear Lake Road Corridor (the most popular part of the park), and one for the rest of the park.
Reservations are open on the first of the month for the next month. Further details are found here. Timed-entry tickets will not be sold at the entrance station.
Book reservations at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.
void trying to find parking downtown.
A free parking garage is located near the intersection of US Hwy 36 and US Hwy 34 across the river from the Estes Park Visitor Center, only a few blocks from downtown. The parking garage features 412 parking spaces on four levels. The garage offers accessible spaces and electric vehicle charging stations. Then, it’s a nice walk through a decorated and lighted tunnel under the road to access downtown.
For information on all of the Town’s free parking locations, visit estes.org/parking.
CATCH A (free!) RIDE
Traffic can get very congested in our small town during high season (summer and fall). Luckily, the Town has a complimentary shuttle system that can take you almost anywhere you need to go! The Estes Transit free shuttles run daily June 22 through September 8. (See insert for a map and service times.)
For more information, including where to download the live shuttle-tracking app, visit estes.org/shuttles.
Estes Park Visitor Center
The knowledgeable team at the visitor center can help answer your questions. Purchase an Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest map, postcards, calendars, books, and local videos.
Pick up free brochures on local businesses, a map of the Estes Park area or of Colorado, the local newspaper, and other free information. The visitor center is also the hub for the free shuttle system. Free parking is available in the lot or the parking garage. There are also restrooms and a water fountain.
Emergencies happen, even when you’re on vacation. Visitors to Estes Park can stay informed of the local situation (fires, floods, road closures) by texting GO EPALERTS to 888-777. Your cell phone number will automatically be added to the database that could be used if the Estes Park Emergency Communications Center sends out emergency mass notifications during the following two-week period. The alert expires after two weeks.
Smile for the Web Cams
Use web cams to check the weather in town or in Rocky. Web cams positioned within town and in Rocky Mountain National Park offer live streams of what’s happening. Check out the weather, view the sunrise or sunset over the mountains, and enjoy the view! Visit estesparkwebcams.com.
In the mountains, gas can be miles away. Always keep your gas tank at least half full. It’s best to head into Rocky with a full tank. There are no filling stations in the park.
Carry snacks and have a blanket or extra clothing. Temperatures can be drastically different the higher in elevation you go. The wind can really make a difference.
Always carry enough water for everyone, including pets. Drinkable water is not always available.
Electric Car Charging Stations
There are three Level 2 charging stations open on a first-come, first-served basis. Two are on the east side of the parking garage near the Estes Park Visitor Center. The other one is in the north side of the Town Hall/library parking lot.
keep them wild
This area is loaded with wildlife and birds. We are in their home and our actions affect how they live, and often how they die.
Besides bears, other animals like fox, coyote, raccoons, and birds can be attracted to human food and trash. Purposely trying to attract wild animals to get closer by enticing them with food is against the law. Animals that become dependent on human food will die when the humans leave. No matter how cute they are, especially those little chipmunks and squirrels, they need to survive on their natural food supply. Don’t feed them!
The Town of Estes Park and RMNP are doing their part to reduce conflicts with all wildlife. You will see wildlife-resistant trash containers in downtown Estes Park and in RMNP.
Be smart around wildlife, especially elk. Though grazing elk appear docile, don’t go for a selfie with a photo-bombing elk or try to get closer to one.
All mamas are protective of their young. Don’t try to prove this fact wrong. You’d be surprised how fast animals can move when protecting their young.
If elk are crossing the road, stay in your car. And if there are elk causing a traffic jam (there’s a really good chance you will experience this), be patient. Give the elk some room.
Leave Nothing Behind
All trash, including food scraps and especially used toilet paper, are ugly to see and dangerous to animals. If you bring it in, take it out!
Dedicate a nylon stuff sack as your trash bag. It’s easy to wash and reuse. Or, use a small plastic bag for your toilet paper and put that in a trash can at the end of your day. If you come across litter while on the trail, please do us a favor and pack it out. Future visitors, wildlife, and locals will thank you!
buy it where you burn it
Where you get your firewood can have long-term effects on the area. Wood from different areas can have invasive species in it. These species, whether it’s a bug or a disease in the tree, can then be spread to this area. Buy and burn firewood locally.
Firewood is available for sale at convenience stores and at most campgrounds. Don’t cut down any branches or trees. Buy a bundle to burn.
There is an off-leash dog park located in Stanley Park (US Hwy 36 and Community Dr.) The park includes an obstacle course and access to the lake.
Murphy’s Mountain Dog Park at the Estes Park Center/YMCA has agility stations, water fountains, and a shade shelter. Free to on-site guests. The park is open to the public (day-use pass needed for non-members).
Dogs may walk the Riverwalk and on the trail around the lake (leashed), on the Homer Rouse and Fish Creek trails, and can hang out with you in any of the town parks or hangouts such as The Barrel, Elkins Whisky, or Rock Cut Brewing Co.
Always clean up after your dog and make sure your dog is well-mannered.
No Dogs here
Pets are not allowed on national park trails but are allowed in the parking lots. They must be leashed in campgrounds.
Due to food-related laws in Colorado, dogs are not allowed on restaurant patios.
The heat can be lethal for pets. Leaving a pet in a car is not only deadly for your furry friend, but it will get you a ticket. Car temperatures rise quickly in the sun, even on cool days. Cracking the window will not prevent your pet from dying of heat exhaustion. Always provide plenty of water during car trips.