ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – After more than two months of closure due to COVID-19 concerns, Rocky Mountain National Park has reopened to the public. The park reopened on Wednesday morning after it closed on March 20. In an effort to promote social distancing and CDC guidelines, park officials will only allow 60% of the regular flow in to the park in the coming weeks.
"It is a great day for us here at Rocky Mountain National Park," said Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP. "It's certainly similar to opening a town or city."
Patterson said staff has continuously monitored the park during the closure. Though humans were clearly missing from the landscape, wildlife was exploring areas they usually didn't prior to COVID-19.
"Certainly the wildlife and vegetation resources have had a break from the level of visitation we normally see here," Patterson said. "[Rangers have seen] more wildlife congregated near, or on, park roadways."
Jessica MacMillan of Fort Collins decided to visit the park on opening day, and attempted to hike some of her favorite trails. Though many were still covered by snow, she did enjoy seeing more wildlife than she typically does in a visit.
She told CBS4's Dillon Thomas she saw fox, elk, deer and more.
"There was a momma moose, and a baby moose, playing in the pond," MacMillan said. "And, there were plenty of parking spaces. And I didn't get there until 9:30. Which is late."
RMNP staff has closed many restrooms throughout the park. Also, visitor centers are closed, though staff will stand outside to offer guidance to those needed. Also, while masks are not required outdoors, Patterson encouraged visitors to wear them when nearing others.
"If we are all wearing masks, that will certainly limit the spread of COVID when we are close to each other," Patterson said.
"I would encourage people to come back. Don't let this virus put a damper on your summer if you are healthy," MacMillan said.
Starting June 4, RMNP will require guests to have a pre-reserved entrance time. Anyone who attempts to enter the park without first purchasing a reservation will not be allowed in the park. For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/conditions.htm#covid19
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