Rocky Mountain National Park 2011 visitations highest in decade |

Rocky Mountain National Park 2011 visitations highest in decade

Tonya Bina
Grand County, CO Colorado

Grand County, CO – In 2011, Rocky Mountain National Park had the third highest number of visitors enter through its gates in the history of counting park guests.

Annual visitation to the park last year amounted to 3.34 million people, only 1.3 percent less than the record set in 2000.

In 2000, 3.38 people visited the park; seconded by the year 1999, when 3.37 visitors were counted.

Specifically on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, 418,000 visitors entered at the Kawuneeche gates, which is up from 403,000 visitors in 2010.

“We hope, and are seeing, that visitors look at coming to Rocky Mountain National Park as a value,” said Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson.

In a time when unemployment is high and expensive vacations are the first to go in many personal budgets, Rocky Mountain National Park can provide recreation opportunities and adventures to families at a low cost.

And considering the Park is situated close to large populations on the Eastern Slope, it’s many people’s “backyard wilderness,” Patterson said.

In fact, Rocky Mountain National Park sells more season passes “than all other parks in our region combined,” she said. The region includes multiple states and Yellowstone National Park.

July sees the most visitors in Rocky Mountain National Park, followed by August, September and June.

But Patterson cautions: “Gathering visitation statistics is not an exact science.”

For example, Park officials recently discovered they have been doubling the multiplier for visitors to Longs Peak and Wild Basin, which slightly skewed numbers in past years. For 2011 stats, the problem was corrected, but the difference between visitation in 2010 to 2011 may be off – by about 170,000 visitors.

For each vehicle that enters the park, a multiplier factors the number of people that may be inside. The park’s formula accounts for a multiplier of 2.7 per vehicle from September through May at the Beavers Meadows entrance and a multiplier of 3 from June through August.

At the Grand Lake entrance, the multiplier used is 2.3 people from September through May, and 2.6 people June through August.

In summer 2012, the Park plans to conduct an audit to check whether the multipliers being used are appropriate to what per-person visitation really is, Patterson said.

They will also be adding gates to other popular entrances on the eastern side, which may mean more counted visitors in future years.

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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