ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. – Rocky Mountain National Park is now closed to all visitors until further notice to help prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus in Colorado.
The closure went into effect Friday at 7 p.m. and will remain in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson, who added access will not be permitted to the national park during this time.
The official announcement of the closure came several hours after Denver7 obtained a letter from the Mayor of Estes Park, Todd A. Jirsa, in which he asked the federal government to close the national park, "to assist our community, our country and our state in addressing the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic."
In the letter, the mayor of the town argued having the national park open “presents a grave public health concern to Estes Park” and surrounding communities, as people are recreating there due to a lack of park fees, spring break travel and the shuttering of ski resorts in the state.
“Estes Park is not in a position to support the potential needs of extra guests at this time,” the letter from the mayor reads. “Furthermore, adequate social distancing is not possible in many of the crowded areas of Rocky Mountain National Park this time of year.”
Patterson said Friday evening the park decided to close at the request of the Larimer County Health Department.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Rocky Mountain National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation,” Patterson said in a statement, adding, “we will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.”
Patterson said those wishing to take advantage of the of the many digital tools available to explore Rocky Mountain National Park can do so on the park’s website. Additionally, people can continue to enjoy the national park through the park’s webcams.
The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Colorado jumped to 363 Friday afternoon. Forty-four people have been hospitalized and four have died from the disease, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.