October visitation numbers are in at Rocky Mountain National Park. As expected, the park received high visitation due to beautiful fall weather and Trail Ridge Road remaining open until October 26 with only a few temporary closures. Visitation was 305,651 for the month which is a significant increase from the past five Octobers. Of course, it's a 361% increase from last October when flood damaged roads, chilly weather and the government shutdown greatly impacted visitation. Park visitation year-to-date is 3,263,804, the highest the park has ever received.
Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Park staff corrected public use statistics procedures for recreation and non-recreation visits beginning in 2012. Starting in 2012, traffic began being counted at Lumpy Ridge and Lily Lake on the park's east side; regression formulas rather than counters are used for the park's west side minor entrances; Hiker Shuttle riders and visitors who enter the park on horseback are counted as recreational visits; and Sun Valley Road, a county road across from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, is no longer counted because this road is not administered by the park. Even with these changes, however, visitation stats are still reliably good estimates.
Many other national parks in the Rocky Mountain West have also seen increases in visitation this year. Rocky began its Centennial Celebration in September, which will continue through September of 2015. Other parks celebrating their Centennial Anniversaries experienced increases in visitation.