Increasing visitation at popular Colorado outdoors destinations in recent years has resulted in the imposition of reservation systems, and there have been additions to the list this year. They include Eldorado Canyon State Park and the summit parking lot on Pikes Peak. Here’s a quick roundup of destinations that will have reservation requirements:
Reservations for timed entry at Rocky Mountain National Park will be required from Memorial Day weekend through Oct. 10. Reservations for visits occurring May 27 through June 30 are on sale through recreation.gov. July reservations go on sale June 1, August reservations on July 1, and so on. When the Rocky Mountain National Park Hiker Shuttle resumes service on Memorial Day following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, reservations will be required for it, too. Shuttles operate from the Estes Park Visitor Center, dropping off passengers at a transit hub in the park where they can transfer to secondary shuttles serving Bear Lake and Moraine Park. Shuttle reservations ($2) are sold through recreation.gov and are good for a party of up to four. Passengers must have purchased park passes in advance before boarding the shuttle. Shuttle reservations go on sale at 5 p.m. the day before your visit. The park entrance fee for individual shuttle riders who don’t have annual or lifetime passes will be $15 and will be sold on recreation.gov. Families would pay $30 for the group.
Reservations for timed entry into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area near Nederland will be required from June 10 through Oct. 15, released via 15-day rolling windows. For example, tickets for June 10 go on sale through recreation.gov on May 26, and the next day tickets will be released for June 11.
Reservations will be required again to drive the Mount Evans Road this summer from Echo Lake to the summit, but details are still to be determined, according to Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
You don’t need reservations to climb Quandary Peak, one of Colorado’s most popular fourteeners, but you will need them to park at the trailhead from June 1 until Sept. 30. Reservations go on sale beginning May 18 at parkquandary.com and can be bought 14 days in advance. Short term parking (3 hours, 30 minutes) will cost $5 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday. Full-day parking (5 a.m. to 3 p.m.) will cost $25 Monday through Thursday and $50 Friday through Sunday. Parking after 3 p.m. is free but overnight parking is not allowed. If you get shut out for a parking reservation, there will be shuttles running every 30 minutes from the South Gondola parking lot in Breckenridge, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., first come, first served. Roundtrip cost for the shuttle is $5 for locals, $15 for non-locals.
Reservations are required to access the iconic Maroon Bells Scenic Area near Aspen by car or public transportation. Parking reservations cost $10 through aspenchamber.org and are already in effect. Shuttle service provided by the Roaring Fork Transit Authority from Aspen will begin May 27. The shuttle fare is $16 with discounts for children and seniors. In both cases, reservations will be required through the summer and into October. Reservations are not required for bicyclists riding the Maroon Creek Road, but cyclists are expected to ride single-file and wear helmets.
The spectacular Hanging Lake trail in Glenwood Canyon has had a reservations system in the past, but it did not open last summer because of damage caused by the Grizzly Creek fire of 2020. Forest service officials are hoping to provide a “primitive” temporary trail there sometime in the summer.
Advance reservations will be required to park in the summit parking lot atop Pikes Peak (elev. 14,115 feet) from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, but traffic will not be restricted on the road. Reservations for two-hour reservations in the lot ($2) are available online, one month in advance of your visit, at DrivePikesPeak.com. That fee is in addition to the $15 toll to drive up the highway. If you fail to get reservations, you will be able to park at Devil’s Playground, 16 miles up the road, and take a free bus shuttle the final three miles to the summit.
Weekend visitors who access Eldorado Canyon State Park by motor vehicle will be required to obtain a free timed-entry reservation this summer. Reservations will not be required for visitors who arrive by bicycle or a free shuttle service that is provided by Boulder County, in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Details are to be determined but the reservation system will begin operation sometime in July.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.