When visiting a new place, it is always good to know what is expected of you. Learn some of the basic rules for visiting. Most are pretty straightforward, but some of them may surprise you.
Rocky Mountain National Park Regulations
One of the first things you need to know is that when you enter Rocky Mountain National Park, you are now on federal land and so federal regulations apply rather than Colorado laws. Rocky Mountain National Park, like all national parks, has its own set of rules and regulations. You can find a full list at the visitor centers, but in this section, I’ll highlight a few of the ones you may find most relevant.
Camping is only allowed in designated sites in Rocky Mountain National Park.
It is illegal to take away any natural features, including pinecones, antlers, rocks, and artifacts or to disturb soil, rocks, or vegetation (including flowers). Metal detector use is prohibited.
The use of drones, or any other unmanned aircraft, is prohibited in national parks.
Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets
Rocky Mountain National Park is a designated natural area where wildlife is free to roam undisturbed. Park visitors should be able to enjoy native wildlife in their natural environment without the disruption or influence of domesticated animals. Pets may accompany you in developed areas such as campgrounds, parking areas, and picnic sites but are not permitted on trails or away from roads or parking areas. Where permitted, pets must be under physical control at all times—caged, crated, or restrained by a leash no longer than six feet.
It is prohibited to leave a pet unattended and tied to an object. It is also illegal to leave pets in a situation where food, water, shade, ventilation, and other basic needs are inadequate. So, while it is possible for pets to remain in your vehicle while you are viewing attractions near roads and parking areas, it is strongly recommended that a party member remain behind to personally ensure your pet's well-being.
Firearms and Weapons
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearm laws before entering the park. Open carry of handguns and rifles, and transport of the same in vehicles, is permitted. Concealed carry is allowed pursuant to a legal Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit and applicable state reciprocity laws. Federal law prohibits firearms in certain facilities (visitor centers, ranger stations, government offices), places that are marked with signs at all public entrances. Recreational target shooting or discharge of a firearm is not allowed. Firearms should not be considered a wildlife protection strategy. Bear spray and other safety precautions are the proven methods for preventing bear and other wildlife interactions. Possessing or carrying a weapon (bow and arrow, crossbow, slingshot, gas- or air-propelled gun, etc.) is prohibited. There are additional regulations on firearms. Stop by a visitor center and ask for the Gun Regulations brochure.
Fires are only allowed at a few designated campsites and picnic areas with provided metal rings. Very few of the wilderness camping sites allow fires. Ask the Wilderness Office for details.
A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. Persons 12 years old or younger may use bait in waters open to fishing, except in designated catch-and-release areas. No other permit is necessary; however, special regulations exist. It is your responsibility to know and obey them. Pick up a brochure at any Rocky Mountain National Park visitor center for details.
Although the use of recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, it is not legal within Rocky Mountain National Park. If you have marijuana in your possession, dispose of it before you visit, since both possession and use are a federal offense in the park.
Protection of Resources
Injuring, defacing, removing, digging, destroying, possessing, or disturbing natural or cultural resources or features of the park is prohibited. Leave everything undisturbed for others to enjoy.
The park has a large population of free-roaming wild animals, some of which are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Wildlife viewing is encouraged but only from a safe distance. Approaching within twenty-five yards of any wild animal, including nesting birds, or within any distance that disturbs or interferes with their free movement or natural behavior is prohibited.