Each year, Rocky Mountain National Park and the National Park Service offer fee-free days in honor of national holidays or special Park Service celebrations.
In 2017, these days offer free entry:
- January 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 20 – Presidents’ Day
- April 15 – 16 and 22 – 23 – Weekends of National Park Week
- August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
- September 30 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11 – 12 – Veterans Day Weekend
If you are planning to visit during the fee-free entry days, here are some tips for visiting during those times!
- Avoid the crowds: The park can fill up really fast, especially at popular trailheads, so avoid the crowds and parking problems by either going early in the morning (we mean well before 9 a.m. in the summer) or waiting until late afternoon. Of course, during the summer months you can always catch a shuttle to the popular trails if you don’t mind not parking at the trailhead.
- Plan around school: If you can make it for the mid-week fee-free days, you may see fewer crowds as kids are in school or families can’t get away for a mid-week, off-season vacation. The winter and early fall dates tend to see less traffic with kids back in school.
- Pick one trailhead to explore: If you are lucky enough to find parking, pick a trailhead and stick to it! Many have connections to other trailheads or there are a variety of trails with various levels of difficulty off of the same trailhead.
- Prepare for changing weather: With the park’s high elevation, the weather can change in an instant. Even if you’re visiting in the spring or summer, you have to prepare for cooler weather and potential storms. Pack warm, water repellant layers for your day in the park and be sure to carry a lot of water with you.
- Hike in the morning, drive in the afternoon: Get your hiking in early and you can spend the rest of the day exploring the park along a scenic drive route and getting your photos taken with stops at the pullouts.
Another great benefit of visiting the park for some of the off-season dates means you’ll find more low-cost lodging near the park, making it an affordable little getaway to explore the park!