Rocky Mountain National Park to hit record-breaking 4.5 million annual visitors ahead of fee increase

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A puddle at Rocky Mountain National Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rocky mountain national park; rmnp; wilderness; kevinjbeaty; denverite; colorado;

Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Rocky Mountain National Park is on track to set an all-time tourism record — 4.5 million visitors in 2016 — just before the annual pass fee increases to $60.

"As of the end of November, we were at 4.4 million," Kyle Patterson, a park spokeswoman told the Reporter Herald. "We should be reaching 4.5 by the end of this year.”

The number of people visiting the park has historically increased every year, and it surpassed 4 million for the first time in 2015. As of November, visitation had increased 33 percent year-over-year, despite the park's main access road, U.S. 34, being closed for construction, according to the Reporter Herald.

The park's annual pass will increase from $50 to $60 on Jan. 1, a decision that was announced in May 2015.

Although the majority of national park operations are funded by Congress, 80 percent of the entrance fees collected by Rocky Mountain National Park go directly toward improving visitor experience. In the past, fees have been used to renovate restroom facilities, rehabilitate and maintain about 100 miles of trails, replace trailhead signs and picnic tables, and operate the park's shuttle bus system.

The National Park Service started conducting a review of the Rocky Mountain National Park fee structure in October 2014 to gauge public opinion on increased fees. Public comments indicated widespread support for fee increases that would go toward directly improving visitor programs and amenities.

The annual pass increase starting on Sunday marks the last in a series of fee updates that began in October 2015.

Read the full story from the Reporter Herald.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at [email protected] or

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