If you are planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this year, be prepared for some driving delays. Bear Lake Road, which provides access to many of the most popular destinations in the park (including the Bear Lake and Glacier George trailheads, as well as Glacier Basin campground), will be undergoing major reconstruction during the 2012 and 2013 summer seasons. Previous reconstruction greatly improved the upper half of the road. Now the lower half is getting its much needed upgrade. The road is being widened, made safer, and in one place rerouted, to better serve park visitors for the next generation.
The official Bear Lake Reconstruction page on the RMNP website states:
"From May 29, through October 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Bear Lake Road, approximately one mile west of Moraine Park Visitor Center to Bear Lake, will be accessible by free shuttle bus only, seven days a week. Private vehicles will be allowed both directions prior to 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m."
Since parking will be very limited without access to the Bear Lake Park & Ride parking lot, they offer the following alternative to taking your own vehicle into the park:
"For those visitors who want to access the Bear Lake area between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the best option will be to park in Estes Park at the parking lot near the Fairgrounds or the Estes Park Visitor Center and take the Hiker Shuttle in to Rocky Mountain National Park."
The Moraine Park campground will remain open year-round as usual, but the Glacier Basin campground will be closed throughout the season. There will be altered bus routes and schedules to better accommodate all visitors during this reconstruction. More information can be found here.
There are still so many reasons to visit this amazing park, that some construction shouldn't cause you to rethink your vacation plans. Just plan accordingly. Make reservations for the Moraine Park campground extra early this year, or if you are staying outside the park, consider your options:
If you choose to drive, please carpool, when possible, to free the road from any unnecessary automobiles.
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