The Refuge Has Resumed Normal Hours of Operation

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Re-Opens to Visitors

Effective Saturday, August 17, 2019, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is open to visitors. The Refuge has resumed its normal hours of operation. In addition, the Wildlife Drive, fishing, environmental education, and interpretive programming have resumed.Lake Mary Trail, Lake Ladora Loop Trail, Rattlesnake Hill Trail, and the Rod and Gun Club Trail will be open; other trails remain closed. The closed areas are clearly marked and will likely re-open to visitors in early September.

The refuge’s temporary closure was implemented in late July as a precautionary measure to prioritize visitor health and safety, while also allowing staff to protect wildlife health. Following several weeks of ongoing coordination with local, state, and federal partners - including public health officials - we are confident that conditions at the refuge support reopening to the public.

Refuge employees’ rapid response efforts have included strategic insecticide application to kill the fleas that spread Sylvatic plague to black-tailed prairie dogs near trails and in areas that support federally endangered black-footed ferrets, which depend upon healthy prairie dog colonies for food and shelter. The refuge currently provides habitat for one of the country’s largest black-footed ferret populations.

Although rare, plague occurs throughout the western United States. For increased safety, we recommend taking the following precautions:  

  • Stay out of areas inhabited by prairie dogs.
  • Avoid contact with prairie dogs and other wild rodents.
  • Do not feed or play with prairie dogs.
  • Do not touch sick or dead animals.
  • Use repellent if you could be exposed to fleas during outdoor activities. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin, as well as clothing, and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).
  • See a physician if you become ill within one week of your visit to this area. Plague is a treatable illness.

Refuge staff will continue to monitor prairie dog colonies and implement plague management efforts.  

For more information on plague, see Frequently AskedQuestions About Plague.