Everything you need to know to be able to get any and all of the timed entry permits you need for your upcoming trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

A Rocky Mountain National Park landscape of Long's Peak in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the US, with over 4.3 million visitors in 2022. Due to it’s popularity, the National Park Service has implemented a timed entry system. This began in 2020 and has returned every year since during the busiest part of the year- Summer and Fall.

When Do We Need A Timed Entry Permit?

Timed entry permits are seasonal, only required from May 24th to mid-October. If you are planning to visit during off season you won’t need a timed entry permit!

There are two types of timed entry permits:

Park Access (Everything BUT Bear Lake Corridor)

Park Access is good for the majority of Rocky Mountain National Park. The only part you won’t have access to is the Bear Lake Corridor. The Bear Lake Corridor is by far the most popular part of Rocky, with Moraine Park, Sprague Lake, and Dream Lake. But, the rest of the park has some amazing things to do and you’ll be able to avoid some of the crowds!

You only need a timed entry permit for this part of the park from 9am to 2pm.

Re-entry is allowed with a valid timed entry permit, so you can come and go as you please.

These permits end October 14th, 2024.

Park Access+ (Bear Lake Corridor)

Park Access+ gives you access to everything the Park Access permit does, plus the Bear Lake Corridor. So, you’d be able to explore some of the most popular views! The Bear Lake Corridor is home to Moraine Park, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, and the trailheads for Dream/Emerald Lake. I highly recommend getting this timed entry permit for at least one of the days of your trip.

This timed entry permit is required from 5am to 6pm, so it is much more difficult to explore this area without getting a timed entry.

Re-entry is only allowed after 2pm, so you can’t come and go before then.

These permits end October 20th, 2024.

Where Do We Get Timed Entry Permits and When?

The timed entry permits can be purchased at recreation.gov.

Timed entry permits are typically available on the first of the month prior to your visit. However, all of May and June release on May 1st.

Release DateReservation Dates
May 1st at 8am (MDT)May 24th- June 30
June 1st at 8am (MDT)July 1- July 31
July 1st at 8am (MDT)August 1- August 31
August 1st at 8am (MDT)September 1- September 30
September 1st at 8am (MDT)October 1- October 20

I highly recommend making an account for recreation.gov prior to then, and being on at 7:50am MDT to be ready. Right before 8am begin to refresh the page until they are uploaded. They go fast. If you don’t get a timed entry, you can also try again the day before you want to enter. They release some additional permits at 7pm MDT the day before.

Having flexibility in your plans so you can roll with whatever permits you get is ideal, but if you really need a specific one for a specific day… have more than one person trying to get permits. Especially if you are trying to get a timed entry permit for a prime Saturday or Holiday.

How Much Do Timed Entry Permits Cost?

The timed entry permits are $2 each and cover one car (you don’t need one per person). You will, however, still need to pay for entry to the park or use a National Parks Pass.

What If I Don’t Get A Timed Entry Permit for Rocky Mountain National Park?

Sun peaking through mountains causing sunrays in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado.

If you do not get a permit you can enter the majority of the park before 9am or after 2pm, or the bear lake corridor before 5am or after 6pm.

There’s also plenty to do in/around Rocky Mountain National Park! If you don’t get a permit I highly recommend exploring Estes Park or Grand Lake (depending on where you are staying), hiking outside of RMNP, or taking a guided tour that provides entry to the park.

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I know Rocky Mountain National Park like the back of my hand, and I’d love to adventure around with you!

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