For many years Rocky Mountain National Park has been one of the state’s top tourist attractions. This year it is on track to surpass four million visitors. Lower gas prices have played a role in increasing the number of visitations at Rocky Mountain as well as other western national parks.
In addition, the higher number of visitors is a result of the celebration of the park’s 100th birthday and the publicity surrounding that landmark. Throughout the year there have been numerous events celebrating the event that culminated with a re-dedication of the park on September 4th. National Park officials have indicated that visitations are frequently 10% to 15% higher during their centennial years.
The park opened in 1915 and 31,000 people visited the park. By 1948, the number of visitations topped 1 million for the first time (1,023,262). More recently the number of visitors has shown steady growth:
• 2010 2,955,821
• 2011 3,176,941
• 2012 3,229,617
• 2013 2,991,141
• 2014 3,443,501
• 2015 4,100,000 estimated.
Note: the decline in 2013 is a result of a federal government shutdown and severe flooding.
Here are some fascinating facts about Rocky Mountain National Park from the park’s website:
•Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915.
•The Continental Divide (a demarcation of the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean) runs through the park.
•Grand Lake Cemetery (which was founded in 1892) is the only active community cemetery operating inside a national park.
•Elevations inside Rocky Mountain National Park range from 8,000 feet in the valleys to 14,259 feet at the top of Longs Peak (the highest point in the park).
In Rocky Mountain National Park, there are:
•35 trailheads, with 359 miles of established trails
•585 drive-in campsites (situated in 5 campgrounds) and 200 backcountry campsites
•60 types of mammals (including moose, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, and mule deer)
•280 species of birds
•900 different plants
•476 miles of streams and creeks, including, most notably, the headwaters of the Colorado River
•260 miles of horse trails
•5 visitor centers.