Are you wondering, “Do you need a reservation for Rocky Mountain National Park?”   

Rocky Mountain National Park has incredible scenery, gorgeous lakes and waterfalls and dozens of incredible hiking trails.  As a result, it gets very crowded in the summer, especially at peak times.  Parking lots fill up soon after day break, the shuttle used to get around the park gets overcrowded, and the road is often congested.  

In order to alleviate this overcrowding and congestion, the National Park Service has introduced a timed entry system to get into the park. 

The reservation system can be a little complicated.  I am a national parks expert and I have written this detailed guide to the Rocky Mountain National Park timed entry system to make your planning easier and help ensure you can get to the park and enjoy all it has to offer. 

No time right now to learn about the Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry 2021?  Pin It and save it for later: 

What You Need to Know About Rocky Mountains Timed Entry System
How to Get Tickets for Rocky Mountain National Park
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Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry

Type of entry tickets/ reservations 

Tickets will be issued for timed entry to the national park as a day visitor. You will not to be able to enter Rocky Mountain National Park for the day unless you have a reservation. When you make your reservation, it will be for a two-hour period and you will need to enter the national park in this two-hour window of time.  

There are two types of timed entry reservations available: 

1)  Access to the whole of the park, including the main Bear Lake Road corridor, between 5:00am and 6:00pm.  The Rocky Mountain National Park reservations periods are: 

  • 5:00 am – 7:00 am 
  • 7:00 am – 9:00 am 
  • 9:00 am – 11:00 am 
  • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 
  • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm 
  • 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm 
  • 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

Note that there is an overlap in the reservation times between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, so the park will most likely be more crowded then. 

2) Access to most of the park, excluding the main Bear Lake Road corridor, between 9:00am and 3:00pm.  The Rocky Mountain National Park entry reservations periods are: 

  • 9:00 am – 11:00 am 
  • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 
  • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm 

Period reservations are needed for 

The timed Rocky Mountain National Park reservation system will be in place between May 28 and October 11, 2021.  

How to get entry tickets/ make reservations 

The tickets will be released in two different allotments: 

1) 75% of the tickets will be available for purchase at 8:00 am Mountain Time approximately 30 days in advance as follows: 

  • May 1 for arrivals between May 28 and June 30 
  • June 1 for arrivals between July 1 and July 31 
  • July 1 for arrivals between August 1 and August 31 
  • August 1 for arrivals between September 1 and September 30 
  • September 1 for arrivals between October 1 and October 11 

2) 25% of the tickets are released at 5:00 pm Mountain Time the day before arrival 

Entry tickets are only available online at the NPS reservation system.  They will not be available at park entrance stations, visitor centers or park offices. 

Cost of tickets/ reservations 

Rocky Mountain National Park tickets cost $2 per vehicle (and all its occupants) and are valid only for the two-hour window on your your ticket.  You must arrive within this time period.

Note that this $2 is in addition to the park entrance fee and is not included in the national park fee.   

When is it not necessary to make a reservation for Rocky Mountain National Park this summer? 

This reservation (and fee) is not required in the following circumstances: 

1) You have a reservation for a campground inside the park or a wilderness camping permit.  You will be able to enter the park on the first day of your camping reservation. 

You will need to show proof of a reservation or permit in lieu of your entry ticket and you must have a camping permit or reservation in advance. There will be no same-day sales at the park’s campgrounds.  

2) You hike or ride a bicycle into the park. The entry ticket is only required for automobiles, not bicycles or on-foot entry.  

3) You enter the park outside the ticketed hours.  The timed entry ticket is only required for entry into the park between 5:00am and 6:00pm (Bear Lake corridor) and 9:00am and 3:00pm (the rest of the park). 

Tips For Getting Timed Entry Tickets for Rocky Mountain National Park 

Read my post about which national parks require reservations in 2021 for some insider tips on making reservations (and the low down on the other national parks that also require some form of reservations this summer). 

Good luck and enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park!  


Do you have any other tips for getting timed entry tickets for Rocky Mountain National Park?  I’d love to hear them.  Comment below.    

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Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry

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How to Get Tickets for Rocky Mountain National Park
What You Need to Know About Rocky Mountains Timed Entry System

If you are thinking about traveling to some other national parks, don’t miss my guides to: 

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR PLANNING PROCESS?

Are you just starting to think about taking a national parks trip? Get Inspiration
Are you starting to plan a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Read my Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park
Are you looking for a place to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park? Find a vacation rental near Estes Park or Find a great cabin near Rocky Mountain National Park
Are you ready to book your trip? Use these Planning and Booking Resources

About the Author 

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents.  He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.

He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.

Read more…


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