Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park On August 24? Expect Traffic Delays From Bike Race

(Top) The race route in the Estes Park area. A larger version is available at this link. NPS image.

The town of Estes Park, Colorado, is the gateway to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, and although it's a delightful small town, it's typically a very busy place during the summer. "Very busy" will likely be an understatement on Saturday, August 24,when one leg of the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge bike race passes through Estes Park.

According to information from race organizers, "This event has the potential to be the largest single-day event that Estes Park has ever seen. Expect road closures, detours, increased security, and large crowds of spectators for the entire day of the race, with some arriving in the days prior to the race."

The race route won't pass through the park itself, but there's no way in or out of the major destinations on the east side of the park without going through Estes Park. US 34 between Estes Park and Loveland through Big Thompson Canyon will also be impacted by the race.

US 34 is one of three primary routes from the rest of the state to Estes Park, so plan ahead if you expect to travel to—or leave—the area on August 24. You'll find details about that stage of the race on the Pro Challenge website.

So, what impacts might visitors going to or from Rocky Mountain National Park expect on the day of the race?

Information from the park advises, "On Saturday, August 24, ...visitors who plan to enter Rocky Mountain National Park on the east side through Beaver Meadows Entrance or Fall River Entrance on Saturday, August 24, should plan to arrive by 8:00 a.m. Numerous planned road closures in the Estes Park community, listed below, will affect access to and from the park. Those planning to access the park from the west side and leave from the east side should also plan accordingly."

"Due to road closures adjacent to the park’s east side, the Hiker Shuttle from Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park will not operate. The shuttle routes inside the park along the Bear Lake Road corridor will operate as usual."

Here's the list of roads serving the park that will be impacted:

• US Highway 36, which is the road to Beaver Meadows Entrance, will close at approximately 9:00 a.m. until late afternoon. There will be detours in place which will result in delays to reach the park.

• US Highway 34, which is the road to Fall River Entrance, will close from approximately noon to 3:00 p.m. There will be detours in place which will result in delays to reach the park.

• Visitors who plan to exit on the east side of the park (Highway 34 or 36) should exit after 4:00 p.m. to avoid detours, heavy congestion and delays.

• The Dunraven Trailhead and Lumpy Ridge Trailhead will be inaccessible for most of the day on August 24.

The key point for visitors to the park on the day of the race is summed up rather tactfully in the following sentence:

"Visitors who plan to come to Rocky Mountain National Park through the east entrances on Saturday, August 24, will have a more enjoyable time if they arrive by 8:00 a.m. and are prepared to stay in the park throughout the day.

You can find Estes Park race route maps including parking, viewing, closure times, security information and tips on the Town of Estes Park’s website at this link. Additional information related to the Pro Challenge and travel within the park can be found at this page on the park website.

On the day of the race you can get traffic updates for the park by following the park on Twitter at RMNPOfficial.

Comments

Jim,

Thank you for posting a link to a larger version of the map.

Mike

Just watched the finish of the Pro Challange Race -stage 2 - from Aspen to Breckrenridge. As far as I can tell - despite going the areas such as Independence Pass and Hoosier Pass which are or are proposed wilderness areas, not a single wild animal lost, no damage to terrain, no litter and enjoyment had by thousands. Oh, and a lot of positive publicity for the towns along the route. Might not hurt the Parks to have such publicity if they want public dollars for their support.

Are you gloating, trying to start an argument...?

Sure, I'll take the bait from ec.

I'm glad day 2 of the race went well, but ec makes some pretty sweeping statements about the lack of any impacts from the race, since the whole day's route covered 126 miles...and he says he saw it from the area of the finish line.

No doubt "thousands" enjoyed it, but you do have to wonder how many additional thousands or more were inconvenienced along the rest of those 126 miles. If there was really no litter from all those crowds along that lengthy route, maybe the answer to the trash problem along highways is to just close them to any use except a bike race :-)

In a related vein, ec has been pretty vocal in another thread about the "inconvenience" to visitors and the possible reduction in donations to the park at Lake Mead because the non-profit group that runs the bookstore decided to stop selling water in throw-away plastic bottles in favor of selling affordable refillable water bottles ... and providing free, filtered water to put in those reusable bottles.

We'll never know, but I'm willing to bet the loss of revenue to the park at Rocky Mountain NP due to the restricted access to the park because of this bike for most of a busy August Saturday will be a whole lot more than the possible reduced donations from the end of bottled water sales at one bookstore at Lake Mead.

No way to determine how many potential visitors to the park wisely decided to stay away from the area altogether on Aug. 24 due to the bike race, and how many others spent a big part of their day stuck in traffic. How much were they "inconvenienced"?

As to impacts on the park, it would be interesting to know if the for-profit Pro-Challenge company is making a donation to Rocky Mountain NP to cover loss of revenue from entrance fees and sales in that park's bookstores on the day of the race.



Are you gloating, trying to start an argument...?

Both - but I prefer calling it a discussion rather than an argument.


but you do have to wonder how many additional thousands or more were inconvenienced along the rest of those 126 miles.


What? because the road was closed for 15 minutes? Hardly any. And any inconvenience that occurred brought substantial benefits in terms of increased retail sales, tax revenues and publicity to the state. How many people seeing the beauty of the Colorado mountains will now be enticed to come to visit?


but I'm willing to bet the loss of revenue to the park at Rocky Mountain NP due to the restricted access to the park because of this bike for most of a busy August Saturday will be a whole lot more than the possible reduced donations from the end of bottled water sales at one bookstore at Lake Mead.


Unlikely. In fact, bringing the thousands of additional visitors to Estes is likely to create a substantial spill over of additional visitors to the Park both the day of the race and for sometime there after as once again, people are enticed by what the area offers.

And before you scoff at that concept. There is a known correlation between a snowy Broncos game on Sunday or Monday night football and bookings in the mountain resorts. People are enticed to act when they see something like our mountains on TV.

ec - It might take the pack of riders only a few minutes to pass a given point along the course, but the information posted above from the park, and on other sites, makes it clear that impacts on traffic in and out of the park and the town of Estes Park on Saturday will last for hours, not minutes. There's a good reason the park staff is suggesting visitors plan to arrive by 8 a.m. and stay for the day.

Will the event help promote business in towns like Estes Park? Probably so, although your speculation of how much "spill over" visitation to the park will occur is just that.

Based on quite a few trips I've made to this area in August over the past 40 years, both the park and town already operate pretty close to capacity during the summer in terms of finding a room, a table at a restaurant, or a place to park, so the net gain in business from the race vs. the cost in tax dollars to support the event are open to question.

MtnLiving - my 15 mintues comment was in reference to the 126 miles Stage 2. Most of that road is in very rural areas with little traffic and no "set up" necessary. Those roads were closed for a matter of minutes.

In Estes, there are longer road closures but there are also detours available. Those detours are likely to only add minutes to the drive and won't prevent anyone from entering the park.

August visitation is typically down 15% from July (so clearly not at capacity) and late August is the lowest of the month as school has come back into session. Given this may bring the largest crowd ever to Estes Park - I can't see how this can't have a positive spillover effect for RMNP both the day of the event and into the future.