Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park Remains Closed After Wildfires Burn Thousands of Acres

Smoke from the Cameron Peak fire surrounds Longs Peak

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park remains closed until further notice as the aftermath of two major fires has left the park in a dangerous state for visitors.

The state has been simultaneously battling two of the largest fires ever recorded in its history. The Cameron Peak Fire has burned nearly 209,000 acres of land, and the East Troublesome Fire which has burned more than 193,000 acres of land. 

The park closed on Oct. 22 after the East Troublesome Fire advanced 18 miles in a single day, and even though authorities lifted an evacuation order for the town of Estes Park, the gateway into Rocky Mountain National Park, on Monday, it still remains closed.

Cars pass by a sign indicating Rocky Mountain National Park is closed

“It is extremely uncommon, since the park was created in 1915. So we have not had this level of fire activity in the park for 105 years,” Kyle Patterson, the park’s public information officer, told Colorado Public Radio. “This year has been extreme, significant — all the words that we're hearing — unprecedented.”

Patterson said that the park may soon reopen some select areas after assessment. But other areas will likely still remain closed, as it is still dangerous to even access them for assessment. A total fire ban in the park will remain in effect until further notice, according to the National Park Service.  

Nearly 29,000 acres of land in the 265,600-acre national park have burned due to the two fires, according to Coloradoan. Although the land has been affected, the park has only reported minor damage to campgrounds and trails. 

But forests can withstand fires and despite the damage, the landscape may grow back stronger. 

“A lot of times things will restore and be better — but not in our lifetimes. So we won't necessarily reap that,” Patterson told Colorado Public Radio. “But we do want the public to understand that their beloved park is still here. And some areas may look a little different, but there's a lot of positives.”

The Cameron Peak Fire is 89 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The East Troublesome Fire is 14 percent contained. 

Smoke is expected to remain in the area until inclement weather arrives.

In the adjacent Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, about 1.5 million acres of land remain closed due to the fires. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at

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