Rocky Mountain National Park to go cashless for all entry fees and permits this summer

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A line of people walk up a trail above the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

Make sure to pack your credit or debit card along with your hiking boots if you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park this summer. The park will stop accepting cash payments for entrance and permit fees starting June 1. 

The change will allow one of the country’s busiest national parks to cut back on time rangers spend handling cash at crowded entry gates, according to a release from the National Park Service. It will also help streamline fee management behind the scenes.

You can still purchase a number of entry passes at one of the park’s main gates with cards or mobile payment options. But, if you want to speed up your entry, NPS officials recommend buying one online before your visit along with a separate timed-entry permit, which is required from May 26 through Oct. 22. 

Visitors can still buy park entrance passes with cash at a few locations outside of the park, according to NPS. They include the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Nature Store at Beaver Meadows and the Fall River or Kawuneeche Visitor Centers.  

Here’s what to know before heading to the park:

What type of passes are available? 

The NPS offers over a dozen different types of passes to get into Rocky. 

One-day vehicle passes cost $30 and cover non-commercial vehicles with less than 16 passengers. You can also buy one-day passes for entry by bike or foot. Seven-day passes are also an option. 

If you’re planning to visit multiple national parks this year, you can buy an annual pass that covers admission to all parks in the system for $80. You can buy those online or in-person. 

Seniors, veterans and students can also get special passes for free or reduced rates.

What about camping? 

The NPS says it’s also going completely cashless for payments and fees associated with campgrounds inside of Rocky starting June 1. 

Overnight visitors must make reservations online ahead of time for most campsites. Timed-entry permits are included with all camping reservations.

Are stores inside the park also going cashless? 

The cashless switch only applies to entry and permit fees, according to the NPS. 

Rocky has a small, convenience-like store and a coffee shop, which will both still accept cash.

How do I get a timed-entry permit? 

Rocky is implementing another iteration of its timed-entry program this summer to help manage crowds, which means you’ll need to snag a free permit prior to your visit. A timed-entry permit is required for everyone entering the park between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. between late May and October.

There are two different types of timed-entry permits. 

A regular Park Access permit gets you access to most areas of the park outside of the popular Bear Lake Road Corridor. 

A Park Access+ entry permit includes access to Bear Lake Road, as well as other areas of Rocky.

Are other Colorado national parks going cashless? 

Yes, Mesa Verde National Park and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument will go cashless this summer, according to the NPS. 

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in southeast Colorado will also go cashless.