GRAND LAKE - The Grand Lake entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park saw a slight increase in visitation in 2012, which nudged the park toward a 1.7 percent increase in overall park visitation.
The west-end main entrance to the national park destination was the only entrance to see an increase in use from 2011.
As many as 431,391 visitors in 2012 compared to 418,000 in 2011 made their way to the park through the western gateway. The increase in visitation on the west side is in spite of a change in the way visitation is being counted in Rocky Mountain National Park on the west side. Those who live off of Sun Valley Road, a county road across from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, are no longer being counted as visitors as they have for many years, according to Kyle Patterson of Rocky Mountain National Park
The Beaver Meadows Entrance on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park saw a 17.9 percent decrease in visitation, and the Fall River Entrance saw a 1.1 percent decrease.
"Several factors inevitably affected the park's 2012 visitation," states a Feb. 13 press release. The Park cites unseasonably warm and dry weather, a major road construction project at Bear Lake Road, and several major Colorado wildfies outside the park.
Moreover, the Fern Lake Fire began on Oct. 9, causing some road and trail closures in early October. Later, the fire became active again.
In all, 3.2 million visitors entered Rocky Mountain National Park in 2012.