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Know Before You Go – Estes Park

Know Before You Go – Estes Park

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 to 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 one 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 (for example, June 1 for July). Further details are found at NPS.gov/ROMO/PlanYourVisit/Timed-Entry-Permit-System.htm. Timed-entry tickets will not be sold at the entrance station.

Book reservations at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.

Planning Your Day in the Park

When planning your adventure into Rocky, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Estes Park Visitor Center

The knowledgeable team at the visitor center can help answer your questions.

The visitor center is open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm and Sun, 10am-4pm and located just east of the intersection of US Hwys 34 and 36. 970-577-9900 or 800-44-ESTES or [email protected].

Free parking is available in the lot at the visitor center or the parking garage. There are also restrooms, water fountains, and souvenirs.

There are a few picnic tables near the river, perfect for a nice stop.

Parking Around Town

Traffic can get very congested in our small town during high season (late spring, summer, and fall), so here’s what you need to know to park like a pro.
The town has a variety of parking options to meet your needs: free, paid, electric vehicle, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, and ADA accessible. A free parking structure 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 via the Riverwalk. The town’s charming (and fully-electric!) trolley picks up right at the visitor center every 20 minutes from 7:30am to 9:30pm daily, May 26-Oct. 22.

To park right in the core of downtown, the town offers both paid parking and free options. From May 26 to Oct. 22, parking is $2 per hour between 10am-
5pm daily in paid lots.

If you plan to use a paid lot, be sure to download the free ParkMobile app in advance. Those with valid ADA credentials always park free in any space. The library, post office, and Town Hall have free, time-limited spaces.

Near real-time occupancy information can be found by downloading our app “Estes Parking” from the Apple and Play stores.

For information on all of the town’s parking options visit Estes.org/Parking.

Catch A Ride

Estes Park does not have ride shares like Uber or Lyft, however there are a few other choices for those who would like someone else to do the driving.

The town has a free seasonal transit system which serves more than 50 stops. All town trolleys have a wheelchair lift and bike racks.

Daily trolley service on the Red Route runs May 26-Oct. 22 with full service on all other routes beginning July 1.

Visit Estes.org/Shuttles for the latest information on the town’s free seasonal transit service.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The town offers both Level II and Level III DC fast-charging stations for public use, open on a first-come, first-served basis. There are Level II chargers on the east side of the parking structure, on the north side of the Town Hall parking lot, and at National Park Village. The Level III charging stations are located in the visitor center parking lot. Visit Estes.org/Parking.

Road Construction

Major road improvements in Estes Park will improve safety, infrastructure, and aid traffic patterns.

Free Outdoor WiFi/Charging Stations

Access the free “Library WiFi” network, 24/7, from the downtown municipal parking lots surrounding the Estes Valley Library, east of Bond Park. Relax and connect inside your vehicle, or enjoy outdoor seating.

Free charging outlets span the library’s front entrance, and the northwest corner’s WiFi Garden. No password is required, and there is no time limit. 

The town’s free “Wapiti WiFi” network spans the area in front of the Municipal Building as well as Bond Park. No password is required.

Smile for the Web Cams

Use local web cams to check the weather in town or in Rocky, or view the sunrise or sunset over the mountains. Visit EstesParkWebCams.com.

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 an insect or a disease in the tree, can then be spread to this area.

Buy and burn firewood locally. Do your best to buy only what you’ll need for your stay, and burn it all before you depart.

Firewood is available at convenience stores in Estes Park or at your campground.

Note: Vacation rentals do not allow outdoor fires (fire pits, campfires, etc.). Some offer gas grills for cooking. Check with your rental property for their options.

Go “All In” For Fire Safety

Wildfire is a very real risk every day in our community. Our entire town was evacuated in 2020 from the second largest wildfire in Colorado history, making it clear that wildfire prevention and preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.

We’re all in this together, and visitors, residents, and business owners all play a vital role in keeping the Estes Valley safe from fire.

Visitors can go “All In” for fire safety by complying with fire restrictions and burn bans, only lighting campfires when permitted (in designated fire rings), and only using gas fire appliances in any short-term rental or lodging.

Visitors can also contribute to our community’s fire safety by refraining from smoking, discarding smoking materials in designated safe containers, and following all operating instructions when using indoor wood-burning fireplaces.

Everyone spending time in the Estes Valley should know at least two routes out of town, as evacuations are just one of many tools the Estes Valley Fire District and their agency partners may use to keep everyone safe from wildfires, floods, or other natural hazards.

Visitors are also strongly encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts on a two-week visitor pass by texting GO EPALERTS to 888-7777.

Drown Out Campfires!

Knowing how to build and start a campfire is important. What’s more impressive is knowing how to put a campfire out correctly so it’s really out. Drown it with water until it’s soup. Even more important—recognize when not to start a campfire at all. Illegal or unattended campfires are often the cause of wildfires.
In the U.S., nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires are human-caused and can be avoided. Don’t be the one to cause a fire.

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