The National Park Service today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Colorado that will allow Rocky Mountain National Park to reopen and temporarily operate during the government shutdown.
The agreement funds the park for a period of 10 days, with gates open from noon on Saturday, Oct. 12 to Sunday, Oct. 20, with the state’s donated amount of $362,700.
Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country last week and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.
Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced yesterday that she will consider agreements with governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to reopen national parks in their states.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Colorado during this shutdown,” said Jewell. “We want to reopen all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Colorado will donate funds to the National Park Service for the sole purpose of enabling National Park Service employees to reopen and manage Rocky Mountain National Park.
“The priority for park staff this weekend will be to reopen the most popular destinations for this time of year including Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park and the section of Trail Ridge Road along the Kawuneeche Valley,” said Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson in statements.
The areas are well-known of fall hiking and elk viewing.
Trail Ridge Road through the full length of the Park is currently closed due to drifting snow (2- to 5-foot drifts), ice, high winds and below freezing temperatures.
It is unknown if Trail Ridge Road will reopen again this season. Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all-season road with 11 miles above 11,500 feet. Last year, Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season on Oct. 17, but never reopened after Oct. 11.
A few small areas on the eastern side of the park remain closed due to flood damage, such as Twin Sisters, the Endovalley area, Old Fall River Road and Cow Creek Trailhead