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Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Rocky Mountain Network

Air Quality at Rocky Mountain National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado
Rocky Mountain NP, Colorado

Most visitors expect clean air and good visibility in parks. However, Rocky Mountain National Park (NP), Colorado, is downwind of many sources of air pollution, including vehicles, power plants, industry, and agriculture. Some of these sources are nearby, while others are regional or even global. Air pollutants carried into the park can harm natural and scenic resources such as lakes and streams, plants, soils, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Rocky Mountain National Park?

  • Excess nitrogen from air pollution impacts high elevation lakes, forests, and alpine plant communities in the park, ultimately leading to a loss in biodiversity. more »
  • Toxic airborne contaminants including mercury and pesticides deposit onto park waters and lands, accumulating in fish and possibly presenting a wildlife and human health concern. more »
  • Ground-level ozone often reaches harmful levels in the park; exposures injure ozone sensitive plants and may also impact the respiratory health of park visitors and employees. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution create haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see by dimming the colors and textures of scenic vistas and obscuring distant landmarks. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring nitrogen, ozone, haze, and other pollutants to assess status and trends. more »
  • Evaluating the impacts of air pollution on park ecosystems. more »
  • Working with the State of Colorado, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and interested stakeholders to find ways of reducing air pollution to help protect and restore park resources (Rocky Mountain National Park Initiative; Agricultural Best Management Practices [pdf 931 KB]). The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks. more »
  • Using an environmentally friendly alternative fuel vehicle fleet and a shuttle bus system for park visitors, reducing the number of vehicles on some of the busiest roads in the park. See section 6 of the RMNP Initiative 2012 Milestone Report (pdf, 5.4 MB) for more details on what the park is doing to address in-park emissions and controls.

Featured Content

Pollutants including nitrogen, toxics, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as lakes, soils, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Rocky Mountain NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Rocky Mountain NP.

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Last Updated: February 03, 2016