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Rocky Mountain National Park Wants to Raise Popular Campsite Prices: We Went in to See Why

Due to rising visitation and costs, Rocky Mountain National Park proposes increasing prices at several of its most popular campsites — and the public comment period is open.

rocky mountain national parkIt will tough to find a campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park when its biggest campground closes for a year starting this May; (photo/Shutterstock)
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Last month, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) announced proposed price changes for four of its most popular campgrounds. Under the changes, Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Aspenglen, and Timber Creek Campgrounds would all see a $10 increase per night. According to RMNP, the extra money would go toward supporting new projects and the ongoing maintenance of facilities.

This fee change is the latest in a series of camping fee hikes being proposed and implemented across publicly maintained lands as visitation rates rise.

“The proposed fee increases are necessary for Rocky Mountain National Park to improve and maintain high-quality visitor services,” RMNP stated in a press release. “While basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress, recreation use fees collected by the park are used to support new projects and the ongoing maintenance of facilities that directly enhance the visitor experience.”

So, I took a trip to Rocky to see the sites and issues RMNP officials outlined and learn more about what exactly these extra costs would address.

Campsite Prices Could Change in Rocky Mountain National Park

RMNP told GearJunkie that it does not know when the final decision regarding these price changes will be made following the public comment period, which ends on May 25. However, price changes for Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Aspenglen, and Timber Creek Campgrounds would not take effect until 2025.

RMNP proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Currently, the price to camp at any of the four campgrounds is $35 per night during the summer. If these changes are implemented, the price will rise to $45 per night. At Moraine Park Campground, there is also a proposed increase of $10 for the 49 new electrical campsites, bringing the price of those to $55 per night.

Group site prices will not change. Nor will there be a price change at Longs Peak Campground, a first-come, first-served summer campground with no available water or winter rates.

“Eighty percent of the recreation use fees, which includes both park entrance and campground fees, collected in Rocky Mountain National Park stay in Rocky to fund critical projects that directly benefit the park’s visitors,” RMNP said. “Twenty percent of these funds go into a fund to help support national park sites across the NPS.”

Projects the Price Hikes Will Fund

RMNP proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Maintenance and Renovation

A portion of the extra money raised by RMNP with these proposed price hikes would fund regular maintenance and improvements to these four campgrounds.

RMNP said that includes replacing tent pad log linings, repairing or replacing fire rings, maintaining walking paths, maintaining restroom facilities, and repairing and replacing aging picnic tables.

RMNP proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Bear Safety Protocols

The park also emphasized bear management as a priority. These fee increases will help RMNP purchase and install bear-resistant garbage cans, recycling bins, dumpsters, more food storage lockers, and other bear safety protocols. The fees will also support bear safety education campaigns, the park said.

RMNP proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Maintenance of Trails

The fees will also help maintain and repair RMNP’s hiking trails. The park boasts over 350 miles of trails that see a lot of use. Price changes would support regular trail maintenance.

It would also go toward replacing damaged sections of trail and boardwalks, trail bridges that cross rivers and streams, and vault toilets near heavily used trails. 

Rocky Mountain National Park proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Pine Beetle Kill Hazard Mitigation

Finally, the price increases will allocate money to mitigate hazards in areas where pine beetles have wreaked havoc. It will fund tree removal in campgrounds, parking areas, along roads, in housing areas, and near visitor centers and picnic areas.

Not the Only Park Raising Prices

National Park Service NPS ranger badge
(Photo/NPS)

The price changes for campgrounds at Rocky Mountain National Park are not isolated.

In 2021, Idaho doubled its entry and campsite fees for nonresidents at some of the state’s most popular recreation areas. In 2022, Oregon increased the price of RV sites for nonresidents by 25%. And in May 2024, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina announced higher prices for select NPS campgrounds it had similarly sought public comment on early in 2024.

Also earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) increased prices at 67 campsites and added fees to 26 more in Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests. Glacier National Park has also increased fees at some of its campsites and intends to increase the prices of select group sites in 2025.

Last month, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced it is considering price hikes for most state-maintained campsites.

Public lands nationwide are experiencing explosive visitation and use rates. According to The Dyrt’s 2024 Camping Report, 84.8 million Americans went camping in 2023, 5.5 million of whom were first-timers. In places like Colorado, securing a campsite without reservations has become very competitive.

That rise in use has increased wear and tear on campsites across the country — which is the root cause behind many of these price changes.

Public Comment Period: Open!

RMNP proposes price changes for campgrounds
(Photo/Will Brendza)

RMNP is consulting with the public regarding the proposed fee changes at RMNP campgrounds.

“Public engagement is an important part of the park’s planning process,” RMNP said in the press release.

The National Park Service will accept comments via its website through May 25. Comments can also be mailed to the park at Rocky Mountain National Park, Office of the Superintendent, 1000 U.S. Hwy 36, Estes Park, CO 80517.

a vista shot through an arch

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