Rocky Mountain National Park visitation decreased 29% in 2020 — the second-largest drop among the 10 most-visited parks, according to a new National Park Service report.
The state of play: The pandemic pushed people outdoors, but temporary closures and restrictions led the national park system to record its lowest visitation numbers since 1980.
Before the 2020 dip, Rocky Mountain National Park saw a seven-year rise in visits that represented a 56% increase since 2013. Three factors contributed:
- The March closure of the park at the onset of the pandemic.
- A new reservation system that limited the number of visitors to 60% of parking lot capacity during prime daylight hours.
- A massive wildfire that shuttered the gates for weeks.
The impact: The park drives the local economy in Estes Park, and sales tax collections fell 16% due to the reservation system, the Denver Post reported.
- This year, the reservation system won't be in place, but officials left open the possibility of its return if congestion becomes a problem.
This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.
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