A group seeking to end the seasonal reservation system for Rocky Mountain National Park met in person and through Zoom on Friday, January 7. The purpose of the meeting was to ask questions and open a dialogue about park rules designed to limit the number of visitors to the park at any given time.
“We asked the Rocky Mountain National Park to answer ten questions, put the reservation system on hold for 2022 and engage in a permanent and formal working group with all stakeholders to address operational challenges, secure rights visiting public lands and ensuring the preservation of the park’s resources for future generations, ”said Dan Denning, group member.
RMNP staff Darla Sidles and Rachel Collins, from Visitor Use Management with the National Park Service, attended. The citizens’ group compiled comments from the public opposing the reservation policy, representing 5,614 people from 50 states and seven countries.
“We wanted to jointly discuss how to preserve and protect Rocky Mountain National Park for future generations while providing access to all who wish to enjoy its magnificence,” said group co-founder Thomas Denning of Lafayette. , Colorado. “The reservation system discriminates. Against minorities and the poor. It’s confusing and poorly communicated to the public. It also denies access to the park to working-class citizens of Colorado’s Front Range communities who have jobs in the park. fixed time and who cannot enter the park before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Members of the citizens’ group say they are not convinced the seasonal reservation system is a solution to a real problem.
“The wave of visits that you see as a crisis, we see the park as fulfilling its purpose,” said Thomas Denning. “Millions of Americans love this place and hold it in their hearts. For many, the reservation system is a huge disappointment and denies them the opportunity to experience the park as those of us who live here take for granted.
Fort Collins resident Kathy Goeke said she would like to know why the park has claimed park visitors have complained about negative experiences due to overcrowding.
“What data was used,” she asked. “Did they complain about the long lines to enter?” Have you participated in exit surveys? Could their problems be solved with education? Are there better ways to educate people than throwing a brochure out the car window? “
Mary Doyle of Longmont said the reservation system could prevent some “everyday” people from entering the park.
“For some, seeing a chipmunk or a waterfall or a moose makes them tick,” Doyle noted. “Even though some people can only walk a mile and a half in the park, we don’t want to take those kinds of memories away from the public. “
Doyle noted that not everyone plans weeks in advance when they come to the park. Even though last minute reservations are available at 5 p.m. the day before entry, not everyone may be ready to jump in line to secure those seats.
And not everyone can afford to take a fishing trip to get in, ”she noted. “We need the land to be accessible to the public. “
Doyle said volunteers could help with education to prevent visitors from trying to stroke a moose or cut off the trail or walk the tundra.
“Some people have told us to be quiet, that this is none of our business,” said Thomas Denning. “They say ‘You are a local. Stop complaining. But it is not about that. It is about preserving the heritage of the park and the possibility for people to create memories.
Gretchen Cole, who owns a property in Estes Park, said she has a large family who love to come to the park and hike or play in the snow.
“If you can’t get a reservation, it’s really hard to expect people to get up at 4 am to go to the park for a picnic at noon,” Cole said. “Last year I was never able to get a reservation. I would try to get in from the Fall River side before 9am, but couldn’t enjoy Moraine Park or the Bear Lake Corridor one day last summer. A lot of people like me have this frustration. I am a photographer. I want to be able to go to the park at different times.
After the meeting, Thomas Denning stressed that the group wants the reservation system to end before it is scheduled to restart in around 140 days.
“You have a lot of people on your side who deeply love the park,” added Dan Denning. “Let’s mobilize this energy and this passion that we share for this beautiful place. Let our elected officials realize that this resource is important to us. It changes people’s lives and we want to pass it on to future generations. Let’s start by looking at your data and try to find a solution.