A decision document has been signed by the Intermountain Regional Office, National Park Service that will enable Rocky Mountain National Park to permanently close the one-mile long Crater Trail to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources. For the past three years, the Crater Trail has been closed year-round pending the outcome of public input and a decision on the Environmental Assessment. Prior to that, the trail was typically closed annually from May to August 15, during the bighorn lambing season, and only open two months from mid-August through mid-October.
An Environmental Assessment for the Crater Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park was prepared in October 2017, to examine alternative actions and environmental impacts associated with the long-term management and use of the Crater Trail. The NPS previously conducted public scoping on the project in 2014 and 2016. The informal trail was never designed or constructed; instead it was user-created over time. The trail was steep and severely eroded in sections and impacting the alpine tundra. It also bisected a prehistoric archeological site.
As part of the decision, park staff will remove the existing footbridge near the trailhead and place signs informing visitors of the closure. The abandoned trail surface will be stabilized and revegetated with native vegetation to help restore natural conditions. The parking area at the trailhead will remain to provide parking for the Milner Pass area.