Your Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE PARK


Like most vacations, you’ll have to make several preparations for a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park as well. For instance, you will need at least 24 to 48 hours before your body gets used to the change in altitude. Once you arrive, make sure you rest and stay hydrated. After 48 hours, you can go on hikes or do whatever else catches your fancy. You may experience altitude sickness. Typical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. In this case, it is best to descend to a lower altitude. Remember, the park may appear to be breathtaking, but ignoring your well-being will only put your life in danger.


When Should You Visit the Park?

Your experience will also depend upon when you choose to visit the park. Most people visit the park during the summer. You can go fishing, hiking, and camping under the stars. A trip in the winter means a lot of fun in the snow. You can try sledding at Hidden Valley, downhill skiing at Winter Park and Eldora, and cross country skiing in the valleys. You will have to set up camp at Moraine Park. This is the only campground where you will have access to water in the winter. Due to avalanches, some of the areas in the park are closed. You must plan your trip carefully. Make sure you check with park rangers for information on the areas you are planning to visit. Always travel in a group. You will also need to stock up on some extra supplies. Things can change rapidly in the Rockies during the winter. The area is often visited by sudden snowstorms, and the temperature can drop below subzero at any time.

Visiting the park in spring is a wonderful experience as well. The weather is cool, and there are light showers every now and then. You’ll still encounter quite a bit of snow as well. With winter fading, you are likely to spot plenty of deer and fawns amidst the greenery. The wildflowers will be in full bloom too. If you are planning to visit in the spring, you can try out cross country skiing, horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Visiting the park in the fall means clear blue skies, golden leaves, and crisp air. September translates into a dazzling array of autumn colors which are further intensified by the rain, snow, and wind. You will also hear Elk bugling from mid-September to October. The park is also home to Bighorn sheep that have head-butting contests during October and November.


How Much Will the Visiting the Park Cost?

A single day pass for the park will cost you $25. If you are planning a longer visit, then you can purchase a 7-day pass. This will cost you $35. Park passes can be purchase at the entrance stations. You can also buy them online.


How Long Should the Trip Be?

Given the diverse attractions that the park has to offer, you can plan a trip that is at least 4 days to a week long. If you are planning a short visit, then you can visit all the main highlights offered by the park and try some easy hiking. However, if you are planning to go deep into the wilderness and try a tough trail, then you will need more time.


TOP ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT


From granite mountain tops and hiking trails to alpine lakes and wildflower-filled meadows, there is never a dull moment in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Depending on the length of your trip, you will have to choose what you want to do carefully. To make things a little easier for you, here’s a list of top attractions that you can see on your first visit to the park.


Longs Peak

At an approximate height of 14,259 feet, the Longs Peak can be a daunting climb. It’s a full day trip that usually lies at the center of every hiker’s itinerary for the park. The first 6 miles are relatively easy, but beyond that, the path becomes particularly steep. Make sure you have made the necessary preparations. The mountain tends to test even the most experienced of climbers.

It will take you 10 to 15 hours to complete the hike. The view from the top is more than rewarding, of course. You will see a mixture of snow and granite spread out against a sky. Try and make sure you reach the summit before noon. This can help you avoid lightning storms that frequent the area. You can start at 4 am to return on time.


Lily Mountain

If you are a novice at hiking and are looking for something relatively easy, then we suggest you visit Lily Mountain. Unlike Longs Peak that may appear too intimidating and dangerous, Lily Mountain is an easy climb. It’s a much shorter climb too (1,000 ft). Of course, that doesn’t mean that the view from the top won’t be as impressive. You will be greeted by a stunning view that includes Continental Divide, Estes Park, Estes One, the Longs Peak, and Mummy Range.


Trail Ridge Road

If you are looking to take a scenic drive through the park, then Trail Ridge Road is where you need to be. Originally, this was the first road that was used to enter into the mountains in the area. It is also the highest continuous paved road in the country. You can expect plenty of hairpin turns on your detour. The road was originally designed in a manner that helped it blend in with the surrounding landscape. Consequently, you can expect some stunning views. You are also likely to spot some wildlife in the form of marmots, moose, elk, and birds. It is only open during the summer.


Bear Lake

Bear Lake is among the most popular lakes in the park. It is located at the end of Bear Lake road. Reaching the lake isn’t hard. It is located at one hundred yards from the parking lot of the park. The lake is surrounded by the Tyndall Glacier. In the morning, you will find the lake aglow under the warm rays of the sun. It’s a breathtaking sight that looks like something out of a postcard.


Dream Lake

This is another stunning attraction that you’ll want to plan for. The hike to this lake starts where the Bear Lake road ends. If you want to experience a beautiful sunrise, then this is where you need to be. Bear in mind,though, that due to the popularity of the Bear Lake, the area will be packed during peak tourist season. If you are planning a visit around the same time, then you can use the shuttle service to reach the trailhead of Bear Lake Road and proceed further on foot.


Horseshoe Park

Located at lower elevations, the Horseshoe Park is a valley that was created by a glacier. The valley is comprised of mineral licks, grassy meadows, and wetlands. As a result, there is an abundance of wildlife here. It is a prime spot for those interested in the wild creatures that inhabit the Rocky Mountain National Park. You can spot plenty of elk and bighorn sheep in the area. It is also a popular spot for birdwatchers. You can spot broad-tailed hummingbirds, dusky fly-catchers, bluebirds and MacGillivray’s warblers.


Gore Range Overlook

The Gore Range Overlook is at an elevation of 12,010 feet. Compared to the park’s other attractions, the view from here is easily the most extensive. It spreads across more than 50 miles and looks over some of the highest peaks in the park.


Mount Ida

This is another relatively easy peak located along the Continental Divide. It is a prime spot for those who are new to hiking and lets you experience that top-of-the-world feeling along with a breathtaking view. It is located on the western side of the park. This is also why it is comparatively unknown to ordinary tourists. If you are not a fan of crowds, then Mount Ida can provide you with a much-needed escape. It’s a slow ascent to the summit, but once you reach the top, you will be greeted with a view of alpine lakes that appear like a constant stretch of blue.


The Backcountry

If you are looking to experience something beyond the usual trains in Rocky Mountain Park, consider visiting the backcountry. Unlike the usual attractions in the park, this is an uninhabited sort of paradise. You could spend quite a few days here without coming across anyone. It grants you the kind of solitude that is so hard to find in our daily lives. Of course, that isn’t all that it offers. Scattered across this area are many breathtaking views and hikes that test the adventurer in you. There are some risky mountain ascents to consider, as well. However, you will need to get a permit from Wilderness Offices before heading to this area. You will also need things like a bear bin, a change of clothes, a compass and map, food supplies, a sleeping bag, a mat, a tent, and good shoes.


The Alberta Falls

The Alberta Falls is a 30-foot waterfall located within the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a great trail for those who are new to hiking. Once you reach the waterfall, you will be greeted with a side view of the water curtain. A round trip to and from the Alberta Falls is nearly 1.7 miles long, and it is completely worth it.

These are just a few of the attractions scattered across the Rocky Mountain National Park. As you delve deeper,you will find many more sights that push beyond the limits of human imagination and leave you humbled in the face of nature.


Estes Park

Last but not the least, we have the ever-gorgeous and a tourist-favorite place sitting at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park – the Estes Park. Your trip to the national park will remain incomplete and lackluster if you miss out on this town. Regarded as one of the most charming and friendly towns of Colorado, Estes Park is the best recreation spot to crash after a tiring hike on the mountains.

With attractions for your entire family, you can book an entire lodge or cabin just for your loved ones to enjoy a cozy time in Colorado. There are lots of fun winter activities that are waiting for you like sledding, fishing, and snowshoeing that become infinitely more exciting at this park. You can also take your partner or family for some holiday shopping on Elkhorn Avenue, especially if you’ve arrived during Christmas time.


The Best Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park


You’ve probably realized by now that this park is engulfed by gorgeous hikes and trails. In fact, most of your time might just go by exploring these landscapes alone. And, it will certainly be worth all the hours, money, and effort.

For travelers, tourists, and onlookers who are specifically planning for a hiking trip, here’s a collection of the best trails at the Rocky Mountain National Park that will simply take your breath away!


Hallett Peak

Hands down, the Hallett Peak is a perfect chunk of land for beginner’s to enjoy the rush of hiking without having to worry about heights. Standing at an altitude of 12, 713 feet, the Hallett Peak offers a trail that is neither too high nor too low, making it the perfect mountain to set foot on with your kids. If you want to feel on top of the world but spare yourself from the dangerous drop-offs, then the Hallett Peak has a memorable experience to offer.


Chasm Lake

People searching for something even more daring and picturesque will absolutely fall in love with the lake hike at Chasm Lake. Regarded as the best lake hike with a breathtaking view, the peaks rise as high as 2,400 feet above the gushing alpine lake. Make sure you have your camera with you as this will be a scene you do not want to miss!


Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon

Here’s another alpine lake for you to enjoy and explore. Leading you to the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountain National Park, here is the Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon, which is a combination of three mountains located on the famous CCY Route. The highest and most breathtaking amongst these – also regarded as the fifth highest peak in the entire Rocky Mountain National Park – is the Ypsilon Mountain. However, no matter what peak you choose, the view from every single peak is a sight to behold.


Emerald Lake

Waiting to be led into the deep, mysterious Tyndal Gorge? Hiking at the Emerald Lake is certainly not for the faint hearted! You will encounter the magnificent Dream Lake and the Bear Lake – however, nothing can surpass the pearl-like beauty of the Emerald Lake, which offers one of the finest hikes at the Tyndall Glacier.


Ute Trail

Ute Trail is a fantastic place for people who are not up for strenuous climbing. It offers a heavenly panoramic view of the entire landscape from its gorgeous peaks. The hike is flat and not too high, making it ideal for parents traveling with kids. Brace yourself for the magnificent Forest Canyon, Estes Park, Longs Peak, and the Moraine Park. There is so much to look forward to in this slice of heaven! And, don’t forget to check out the alpine tundra zone to taste the chilly, fresh air of the Rocky Mountain National Park.


Sky Pond

Sky Pond is nothing short of a wonder. Engulfed by soaring cliff walls on all three sides, the place offers a verdant alpine view for daredevil hikers. These are heights that you simply can’t miss. You will get to see humbling waterfalls and beautiful lakes on your way. However, be careful of the hurdle along the Timberline Falls as it might be too high for people with a fear of heights. Nonetheless, if you’re okay with the challenge, then a heavenly scenery awaits you.

And, that wraps up our collection of the best hikes at the Rocky Mountain National Park. These were only the most breath-taking trails— there are many more hikes and peaks that you would absolutely love. For that, you will have to book a ticket and venture into this stunning place.


Where Can You Stay?


There are many extremely comfortable and rather affordable lodgings at Colorado that are located around the Rocky Mountain National Park. Considering that this place is first and foremost a hiking spot, it makes sense to explore some well-furnished campsites!


Timber Creek Campground

Located 10 miles from the Grand Lake, this campground houses a total of 98 sites that are booked as the visitors come. Hence, if you want to grab a spot, make sure to make it in time. The site is open for visitors from May to early November.

The best part is that this campsite is located by the beautiful Colorado River, which offers the most luscious view of the landscape. And all this for only $26 per night—that’s a deal you simply can’t miss. However, be careful of the lack of shade on this campground due to the pine beetle infestation.

Nonetheless, the place has wonderful amenities, flush toilets, and ranger-led programs if you want to set out in the dark of the night.


Longs Peak Campground

This too is a first-come, first-served area offering a total of 26 sites. The campground is surrounded by a pine forest that only asks for $26 for a memorable night. Standing at a height of 9,500 feet, Longs Peak is the perfect spot to enjoy the chilly mornings and warm evenings of the seasons. No doubt, the best time to visit this campsite is during the summers. So, take your family and friends and enjoy a night under the stars.


Fern Lake

The last recommendation on our list of the best campsites at Rocky Mountain National Park is the Fern Lake. If you have feisty, naughty kids who love horseplay, then they will absolutely enjoy this backpacking adventure. Fern Lake offers a backcountry camping experience and a gorgeous set of waterfalls like the Marguerite Falls and the Fern Falls. Camping is all about exploring the beautiful sceneries around you, and there is nothing better than some fishing at the lake. If you arrive early at the spot, spend your time fishing until the late evening before you set up your tents. There’s also a convenient pit toilet, which is a great option for people with kids.

And, while you’re at it, make sure to explore the Odessa and Spruce Lake nearby and take lots of pictures of the starlit night sky! Ask a local guide or a park official to help guide your way through the lake campsite to find your spot.

While these were the best campsites for a good night out, let’s look into some of the best hotels and lodgings for you to spend your weekend.


The 5 Best Hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park


Hot Sulphur Springs Resort

Who wouldn’t like to spend their vacation in a soothing resort with hot springs? Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa offers that and so much more. Enjoy a simple, relaxing, and serene vacation at this place that says no to alcohol, cooking, and pets. Spend some quality time with your friends and family, away from all such mundane distractions.

You can lodge in very simple, traditional motel rooms for a very reasonable price. There’s also an apartment and a cabin to go with. Right next to your room will be gorgeous hot springs. Splurge and splash on a budget and enjoy the best that nature has to offer. You can even bring your RV or camp for absolutely free at the Pioneer Park – an 80-acre landscape that is only within walking distance of the resort. And the best part? A day spent enjoying the hot pools is no more than $20!


Grand Lake Lodge

Although there aren’t any lodges right inside of the Rocket Mountain National Park, there are many resorts engulfing it that offer a true, luxurious experience. The Grand Lake Lodge is exactly that. Having found its identity in 1920s, the place is an official national historic landmark.

A cabin resort right next to the park and overlooking the beautiful Grand Lake, this lodging is quite safely “Colorado’s most beloved front porch”. Here’s why. The lodging offers a large veranda where you can come out at any time of the day and enjoy the beautiful sunsets, sunrise, and picturesque sceneries.

With exhilarating swings, hickory rockers, and cozy fireplaces – this place is ideal to visit during any season and any month of the year.


Dao House Lodge

A resort that overlooks the magnificent Long Peaks? Now, this is truly a sight that will take your breath away! The Dao House Lodge from Wu Dang Chen – the Chinese Daoist priest – who trained the resort staff with expert skills in martial arts and wellness.

Prepare to be amazed by their exceptional expertise and knowledge in wellness by finding a personalized plan for you. Located at the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain National park, the helpful staff at the resort will provide you with a thorough organic meal program, tips on how to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, and practice different Tai Chi moves.

And, if you’re ever feeling a bit too overwhelmed by the mountainous elevations around you, head to the oxygen bar for an energizing and life-giving oxygen-infused aroma-therapy!


Devil’s Thumb Ranch – Mountain Resort and Spa

This might sound unrealistic but according famous legends, the Devil’s Thumb Ranch is where the tribes in war decided to make peace and bury the devil instead right in the depths of the mountains. And, this may have been the reason for the rock formation that resembles the Devil’s thumb protruding from the earth. However, this is only a legend.

What truly sets this place apart is its state-of-the-art architecture, lodge rooms, sister inns, and bunkhouse. The place was initially a dairy ranch until it turned into a wonderful vacationing spot in 1946. Now, the Devil’s Thumb Ranch with its rustic ranch experience and luxurious amenities including horse riding, fly fishing, and cattle driving is one of the most popular places to crash whilst in Colorado.


Yurt Village – Snow Mountain Ranch

Located at the western side of the grand Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most beautiful Yurt villages. At the Snow Mountain Ranch, these lodgings are indeed the most popular attractions to stay in. Even when the Yurts are not heated, you can still visit them year-round apart from a few weeks during May and April.

Each yurt can house upto 6 people, with two bunk beds and a huge, luxurious queen bed. And guess what? You can also tag your furry pals along for no more than $25 per night! With accessible hot showers, decent flush toilets, phone facilities, and deep well sinks, these villages offer a simple and rustic lifestyle for you to enjoy during your vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

All the huts are ideal for couples, families, and solo travelers with the most reasonable budgets all year round. You can also find two more yurts at the Golden Gate Canyon State Park – just an hour away from the national park. Enjoy the stunning view of the grand Continental Divide and verdant sceneries that stretch as far as the horizon!


Safety and Health Concerns

There are many safety measures and health concerns listed by the National Park Service when it comes to the Rocky Mountain National Park and Preserve. Since most of Colorado comprises elevated landscapes and high mountains, visitors, families, and tourists must follow certain precautions regarding wildlife, rivers, wet rocks, and of course, the mountain weather. In order to ensure a safe and memorable journey, the NPS advises everyone to stay out of rivers during the warmer months. Because of rapid snowmelt, the streams and rivers are usually running very high. Even if you’re an avid swimmer, it’s best to steer clear of water bodies as they can be too deep.

This is not to scare you but every year, there are a significant number of rescues related to unsuspected victims who fell into the water while crossing a stream, hiking, or climbing a rock. Therefore, in order to stay safe, it’s best to plan an itinerary that is away from creeks, rivers, and even rocks right next to the rivers.


Check the Mountain Weather

The climate can quickly become unpredictable in the mountains. A perfectly sunny and bright day can get windy and even escalate to a rainy storm. Don’t worry, though, the temperatures are usually moderate for mountain elevations below 2,865 m. However, if you’re planning on trailing the Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, or Longs Peak, then stay wary of heavy snow showers in July.

As mentioned above, mountain weather can be highly volatile, so prepare well for both the daytime and nighttime. Summer days from June-August usually hit 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and might drop only as low as 40 degrees F. All in all, the national park receives plenty of rain and snow throughout the year. Make sure you go through the weather forecast for at least the following week or two while preparing for your trip.

If you’re planning for a hike or rock-climbing, then pack a few essentials for you and your family. A map, compass, flashlight, raingear, sunglasses, a fire starter, and of course, extra water and food should absolutely be in the bag pack. If you’re traveling in the colder months, throw in a few extra layers of clothes in your gear as well as a first aid kit for you and your kids.


Keep a Safe Distance around Wildlife

The Estes Park, for example, is home to stunning elks and bears; however, it’s important not to disturb the wildlife in the mountains. These animals usually like to be on their own, and approaching or feeding them on your own accord can be perilous. If you’re traveling with kids, take serious measures to keep a safe distance from wildlife as it can be dangerous, especially if you’re hiking.

There are ranger-led animal wildlife-watching programs at the park. Hence, if you’re interested in one, make sure you’re traveling with professional people who know what to do in case they encounter a bear or a mountain lion. There are set precautions by the National Park Service against black bears and lion sightings that have drastically risen in the last few years. However, although wildlife attacks are rare in the region, there’s always a chance of an injury in case you encounter one.

Hence, to improve your safety, always keep your food in a storage locker to avoid any uninvited guests. Always close your vehicles completely and dispose of the garbage in bear-resistant trashcans. Try to stay together in a crowd with your family and other traveling members, especially when it gets dark. And, most importantly, be very cautious of your children. Don’t let them roam around freely on the trail, and give them clear instructions about the wildlife.


Mountain Climbing and Hiking

There are many great trails like Mount Ida, Longs Peak, and Lily Mountain. However, as exciting as the adventure sounds, it is equally important not to attempt rock climbing if you’re a beginner. Scrambling up steep slopes without prior experience can potentially lead to injuries, falls, and accidents. Make sure, you have a professional accompanying you in the journey to help you with the extensive training and proper equipment.


Burned Areas and Falling Trees

As far as burned areas are concerned, you have to be especially careful when visiting the Forest Canyon, trails in the Fern Lake and Spruce Canyon. If you have little ones and pets accompanying you, then stay wary of falling trees, rolling rocks and logs, and even stump holes that can pose a potential threat during high windy periods. You will be offered a detailed guide by the rangers and regulatory staff at the forest areas; however, it’s always a good idea to practice precaution on your own. Any trail structures that could still be smoldering are immediately off-travel. You should avoid off-trail traveling in burned areas of the forests.

If you’re planning to camp in the forest area, always be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazard from falling trees. It’s better to drop the camping plan if the weather gets windy or a snow storm is imminent. Again, staying safe is solely going to be your responsibility.


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

As much as we would like you to enjoy your trip to the hilt, health safety is a must. The spotted fever is a common endemic in mountainous regions, especially at this park. It typically spreads through the bite of an infected tick. This isn’t the same as the Colorado Tick Fever— it can eventually become fatal, although he chances are quite rare.

Protection from ticks and mosquitoes is imperative, so slather on a strong repellent before you hit the trails. Some alarming symptoms to watch out for are high fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and chills. In nearly half the cases, people develop an itchy rash, which can persist for many days. If the malaise continues up to 2-3 weeks, make sure to visit a doctor and get your blood tests done.


Colorado Tick Fever

Tick fever is extremely common in the region. In fact, the disease is carried by nearly one-third of the population in the area. With high fever and extreme malaise being common symptoms, the disease causes severe bouts of fever that appear a week after you are exposed to the infected tick.

If you or any of your family members get a bite, make sure to remove the tick cautiously from the place it has bitten. If you squeeze the tick hard, it may spill toxins into the blood, which can aggravate your condition.

Wear light-colored protective clothing no matter what the weather is to minimize the chances of tick bites. Try to avoid tick-infested areas if you’re camping in a forest area. Always check your children, pets, and family members for ticks, and carefully remove them. So, that’s it. As long as you’re following all the above-mentioned safety tips, you can expect a wonderful experience at the Rocky National Mountain Park. If you truly want to taste the luscious air of the mountains, then you have to prepare accordingly as well.


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Your Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park

Book AuthorGoglides
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Rocky Mountain National Park

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE PARK


Like most vacations, you’ll have to make several preparations for a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park as well. For instance, you will need at least 24 to 48 hours before your body gets used to the change in altitude. Once you arrive, make sure you rest and stay hydrated. After 48 hours, you can go on hikes or do whatever else catches your fancy. You may experience altitude sickness. Typical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. In this case, it is best to descend to a lower altitude. Remember, the park may appear to be breathtaking, but ignoring your well-being will only put your life in danger.


When Should You Visit the Park?

Your experience will also depend upon when you choose to visit the park. Most people visit the park during the summer. You can go fishing, hiking, and camping under the stars. A trip in the winter means a lot of fun in the snow. You can try sledding at Hidden Valley, downhill skiing at Winter Park and Eldora, and cross country skiing in the valleys. You will have to set up camp at Moraine Park. This is the only campground where you will have access to water in the winter. Due to avalanches, some of the areas in the park are closed. You must plan your trip carefully. Make sure you check with park rangers for information on the areas you are planning to visit. Always travel in a group. You will also need to stock up on some extra supplies. Things can change rapidly in the Rockies during the winter. The area is often visited by sudden snowstorms, and the temperature can drop below subzero at any time.

Visiting the park in spring is a wonderful experience as well. The weather is cool, and there are light showers every now and then. You’ll still encounter quite a bit of snow as well. With winter fading, you are likely to spot plenty of deer and fawns amidst the greenery. The wildflowers will be in full bloom too. If you are planning to visit in the spring, you can try out cross country skiing, horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Visiting the park in the fall means clear blue skies, golden leaves, and crisp air. September translates into a dazzling array of autumn colors which are further intensified by the rain, snow, and wind. You will also hear Elk bugling from mid-September to October. The park is also home to Bighorn sheep that have head-butting contests during October and November.


How Much Will the Visiting the Park Cost?

A single day pass for the park will cost you $25. If you are planning a longer visit, then you can purchase a 7-day pass. This will cost you $35. Park passes can be purchase at the entrance stations. You can also buy them online.


How Long Should the Trip Be?

Given the diverse attractions that the park has to offer, you can plan a trip that is at least 4 days to a week long. If you are planning a short visit, then you can visit all the main highlights offered by the park and try some easy hiking. However, if you are planning to go deep into the wilderness and try a tough trail, then you will need more time.


TOP ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT


From granite mountain tops and hiking trails to alpine lakes and wildflower-filled meadows, there is never a dull moment in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Depending on the length of your trip, you will have to choose what you want to do carefully. To make things a little easier for you, here’s a list of top attractions that you can see on your first visit to the park.


Longs Peak

At an approximate height of 14,259 feet, the Longs Peak can be a daunting climb. It’s a full day trip that usually lies at the center of every hiker’s itinerary for the park. The first 6 miles are relatively easy, but beyond that, the path becomes particularly steep. Make sure you have made the necessary preparations. The mountain tends to test even the most experienced of climbers.

It will take you 10 to 15 hours to complete the hike. The view from the top is more than rewarding, of course. You will see a mixture of snow and granite spread out against a sky. Try and make sure you reach the summit before noon. This can help you avoid lightning storms that frequent the area. You can start at 4 am to return on time.


Lily Mountain

If you are a novice at hiking and are looking for something relatively easy, then we suggest you visit Lily Mountain. Unlike Longs Peak that may appear too intimidating and dangerous, Lily Mountain is an easy climb. It’s a much shorter climb too (1,000 ft). Of course, that doesn’t mean that the view from the top won’t be as impressive. You will be greeted by a stunning view that includes Continental Divide, Estes Park, Estes One, the Longs Peak, and Mummy Range.


Trail Ridge Road

If you are looking to take a scenic drive through the park, then Trail Ridge Road is where you need to be. Originally, this was the first road that was used to enter into the mountains in the area. It is also the highest continuous paved road in the country. You can expect plenty of hairpin turns on your detour. The road was originally designed in a manner that helped it blend in with the surrounding landscape. Consequently, you can expect some stunning views. You are also likely to spot some wildlife in the form of marmots, moose, elk, and birds. It is only open during the summer.


Bear Lake

Bear Lake is among the most popular lakes in the park. It is located at the end of Bear Lake road. Reaching the lake isn’t hard. It is located at one hundred yards from the parking lot of the park. The lake is surrounded by the Tyndall Glacier. In the morning, you will find the lake aglow under the warm rays of the sun. It’s a breathtaking sight that looks like something out of a postcard.


Dream Lake

This is another stunning attraction that you’ll want to plan for. The hike to this lake starts where the Bear Lake road ends. If you want to experience a beautiful sunrise, then this is where you need to be. Bear in mind,though, that due to the popularity of the Bear Lake, the area will be packed during peak tourist season. If you are planning a visit around the same time, then you can use the shuttle service to reach the trailhead of Bear Lake Road and proceed further on foot.


Horseshoe Park

Located at lower elevations, the Horseshoe Park is a valley that was created by a glacier. The valley is comprised of mineral licks, grassy meadows, and wetlands. As a result, there is an abundance of wildlife here. It is a prime spot for those interested in the wild creatures that inhabit the Rocky Mountain National Park. You can spot plenty of elk and bighorn sheep in the area. It is also a popular spot for birdwatchers. You can spot broad-tailed hummingbirds, dusky fly-catchers, bluebirds and MacGillivray’s warblers.


Gore Range Overlook

The Gore Range Overlook is at an elevation of 12,010 feet. Compared to the park’s other attractions, the view from here is easily the most extensive. It spreads across more than 50 miles and looks over some of the highest peaks in the park.


Mount Ida

This is another relatively easy peak located along the Continental Divide. It is a prime spot for those who are new to hiking and lets you experience that top-of-the-world feeling along with a breathtaking view. It is located on the western side of the park. This is also why it is comparatively unknown to ordinary tourists. If you are not a fan of crowds, then Mount Ida can provide you with a much-needed escape. It’s a slow ascent to the summit, but once you reach the top, you will be greeted with a view of alpine lakes that appear like a constant stretch of blue.


The Backcountry

If you are looking to experience something beyond the usual trains in Rocky Mountain Park, consider visiting the backcountry. Unlike the usual attractions in the park, this is an uninhabited sort of paradise. You could spend quite a few days here without coming across anyone. It grants you the kind of solitude that is so hard to find in our daily lives. Of course, that isn’t all that it offers. Scattered across this area are many breathtaking views and hikes that test the adventurer in you. There are some risky mountain ascents to consider, as well. However, you will need to get a permit from Wilderness Offices before heading to this area. You will also need things like a bear bin, a change of clothes, a compass and map, food supplies, a sleeping bag, a mat, a tent, and good shoes.


The Alberta Falls

The Alberta Falls is a 30-foot waterfall located within the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a great trail for those who are new to hiking. Once you reach the waterfall, you will be greeted with a side view of the water curtain. A round trip to and from the Alberta Falls is nearly 1.7 miles long, and it is completely worth it.

These are just a few of the attractions scattered across the Rocky Mountain National Park. As you delve deeper,you will find many more sights that push beyond the limits of human imagination and leave you humbled in the face of nature.


Estes Park

Last but not the least, we have the ever-gorgeous and a tourist-favorite place sitting at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park – the Estes Park. Your trip to the national park will remain incomplete and lackluster if you miss out on this town. Regarded as one of the most charming and friendly towns of Colorado, Estes Park is the best recreation spot to crash after a tiring hike on the mountains.

With attractions for your entire family, you can book an entire lodge or cabin just for your loved ones to enjoy a cozy time in Colorado. There are lots of fun winter activities that are waiting for you like sledding, fishing, and snowshoeing that become infinitely more exciting at this park. You can also take your partner or family for some holiday shopping on Elkhorn Avenue, especially if you’ve arrived during Christmas time.


The Best Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park


You’ve probably realized by now that this park is engulfed by gorgeous hikes and trails. In fact, most of your time might just go by exploring these landscapes alone. And, it will certainly be worth all the hours, money, and effort.

For travelers, tourists, and onlookers who are specifically planning for a hiking trip, here’s a collection of the best trails at the Rocky Mountain National Park that will simply take your breath away!


Hallett Peak

Hands down, the Hallett Peak is a perfect chunk of land for beginner’s to enjoy the rush of hiking without having to worry about heights. Standing at an altitude of 12, 713 feet, the Hallett Peak offers a trail that is neither too high nor too low, making it the perfect mountain to set foot on with your kids. If you want to feel on top of the world but spare yourself from the dangerous drop-offs, then the Hallett Peak has a memorable experience to offer.


Chasm Lake

People searching for something even more daring and picturesque will absolutely fall in love with the lake hike at Chasm Lake. Regarded as the best lake hike with a breathtaking view, the peaks rise as high as 2,400 feet above the gushing alpine lake. Make sure you have your camera with you as this will be a scene you do not want to miss!


Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon

Here’s another alpine lake for you to enjoy and explore. Leading you to the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountain National Park, here is the Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon, which is a combination of three mountains located on the famous CCY Route. The highest and most breathtaking amongst these – also regarded as the fifth highest peak in the entire Rocky Mountain National Park – is the Ypsilon Mountain. However, no matter what peak you choose, the view from every single peak is a sight to behold.


Emerald Lake

Waiting to be led into the deep, mysterious Tyndal Gorge? Hiking at the Emerald Lake is certainly not for the faint hearted! You will encounter the magnificent Dream Lake and the Bear Lake – however, nothing can surpass the pearl-like beauty of the Emerald Lake, which offers one of the finest hikes at the Tyndall Glacier.


Ute Trail

Ute Trail is a fantastic place for people who are not up for strenuous climbing. It offers a heavenly panoramic view of the entire landscape from its gorgeous peaks. The hike is flat and not too high, making it ideal for parents traveling with kids. Brace yourself for the magnificent Forest Canyon, Estes Park, Longs Peak, and the Moraine Park. There is so much to look forward to in this slice of heaven! And, don’t forget to check out the alpine tundra zone to taste the chilly, fresh air of the Rocky Mountain National Park.


Sky Pond

Sky Pond is nothing short of a wonder. Engulfed by soaring cliff walls on all three sides, the place offers a verdant alpine view for daredevil hikers. These are heights that you simply can’t miss. You will get to see humbling waterfalls and beautiful lakes on your way. However, be careful of the hurdle along the Timberline Falls as it might be too high for people with a fear of heights. Nonetheless, if you’re okay with the challenge, then a heavenly scenery awaits you.

And, that wraps up our collection of the best hikes at the Rocky Mountain National Park. These were only the most breath-taking trails— there are many more hikes and peaks that you would absolutely love. For that, you will have to book a ticket and venture into this stunning place.


Where Can You Stay?


There are many extremely comfortable and rather affordable lodgings at Colorado that are located around the Rocky Mountain National Park. Considering that this place is first and foremost a hiking spot, it makes sense to explore some well-furnished campsites!


Timber Creek Campground

Located 10 miles from the Grand Lake, this campground houses a total of 98 sites that are booked as the visitors come. Hence, if you want to grab a spot, make sure to make it in time. The site is open for visitors from May to early November.

The best part is that this campsite is located by the beautiful Colorado River, which offers the most luscious view of the landscape. And all this for only $26 per night—that’s a deal you simply can’t miss. However, be careful of the lack of shade on this campground due to the pine beetle infestation.

Nonetheless, the place has wonderful amenities, flush toilets, and ranger-led programs if you want to set out in the dark of the night.


Longs Peak Campground

This too is a first-come, first-served area offering a total of 26 sites. The campground is surrounded by a pine forest that only asks for $26 for a memorable night. Standing at a height of 9,500 feet, Longs Peak is the perfect spot to enjoy the chilly mornings and warm evenings of the seasons. No doubt, the best time to visit this campsite is during the summers. So, take your family and friends and enjoy a night under the stars.


Fern Lake

The last recommendation on our list of the best campsites at Rocky Mountain National Park is the Fern Lake. If you have feisty, naughty kids who love horseplay, then they will absolutely enjoy this backpacking adventure. Fern Lake offers a backcountry camping experience and a gorgeous set of waterfalls like the Marguerite Falls and the Fern Falls. Camping is all about exploring the beautiful sceneries around you, and there is nothing better than some fishing at the lake. If you arrive early at the spot, spend your time fishing until the late evening before you set up your tents. There’s also a convenient pit toilet, which is a great option for people with kids.

And, while you’re at it, make sure to explore the Odessa and Spruce Lake nearby and take lots of pictures of the starlit night sky! Ask a local guide or a park official to help guide your way through the lake campsite to find your spot.

While these were the best campsites for a good night out, let’s look into some of the best hotels and lodgings for you to spend your weekend.


The 5 Best Hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park


Hot Sulphur Springs Resort

Who wouldn’t like to spend their vacation in a soothing resort with hot springs? Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa offers that and so much more. Enjoy a simple, relaxing, and serene vacation at this place that says no to alcohol, cooking, and pets. Spend some quality time with your friends and family, away from all such mundane distractions.

You can lodge in very simple, traditional motel rooms for a very reasonable price. There’s also an apartment and a cabin to go with. Right next to your room will be gorgeous hot springs. Splurge and splash on a budget and enjoy the best that nature has to offer. You can even bring your RV or camp for absolutely free at the Pioneer Park – an 80-acre landscape that is only within walking distance of the resort. And the best part? A day spent enjoying the hot pools is no more than $20!


Grand Lake Lodge

Although there aren’t any lodges right inside of the Rocket Mountain National Park, there are many resorts engulfing it that offer a true, luxurious experience. The Grand Lake Lodge is exactly that. Having found its identity in 1920s, the place is an official national historic landmark.

A cabin resort right next to the park and overlooking the beautiful Grand Lake, this lodging is quite safely “Colorado’s most beloved front porch”. Here’s why. The lodging offers a large veranda where you can come out at any time of the day and enjoy the beautiful sunsets, sunrise, and picturesque sceneries.

With exhilarating swings, hickory rockers, and cozy fireplaces – this place is ideal to visit during any season and any month of the year.


Dao House Lodge

A resort that overlooks the magnificent Long Peaks? Now, this is truly a sight that will take your breath away! The Dao House Lodge from Wu Dang Chen – the Chinese Daoist priest – who trained the resort staff with expert skills in martial arts and wellness.

Prepare to be amazed by their exceptional expertise and knowledge in wellness by finding a personalized plan for you. Located at the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain National park, the helpful staff at the resort will provide you with a thorough organic meal program, tips on how to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, and practice different Tai Chi moves.

And, if you’re ever feeling a bit too overwhelmed by the mountainous elevations around you, head to the oxygen bar for an energizing and life-giving oxygen-infused aroma-therapy!


Devil’s Thumb Ranch – Mountain Resort and Spa

This might sound unrealistic but according famous legends, the Devil’s Thumb Ranch is where the tribes in war decided to make peace and bury the devil instead right in the depths of the mountains. And, this may have been the reason for the rock formation that resembles the Devil’s thumb protruding from the earth. However, this is only a legend.

What truly sets this place apart is its state-of-the-art architecture, lodge rooms, sister inns, and bunkhouse. The place was initially a dairy ranch until it turned into a wonderful vacationing spot in 1946. Now, the Devil’s Thumb Ranch with its rustic ranch experience and luxurious amenities including horse riding, fly fishing, and cattle driving is one of the most popular places to crash whilst in Colorado.


Yurt Village – Snow Mountain Ranch

Located at the western side of the grand Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most beautiful Yurt villages. At the Snow Mountain Ranch, these lodgings are indeed the most popular attractions to stay in. Even when the Yurts are not heated, you can still visit them year-round apart from a few weeks during May and April.

Each yurt can house upto 6 people, with two bunk beds and a huge, luxurious queen bed. And guess what? You can also tag your furry pals along for no more than $25 per night! With accessible hot showers, decent flush toilets, phone facilities, and deep well sinks, these villages offer a simple and rustic lifestyle for you to enjoy during your vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

All the huts are ideal for couples, families, and solo travelers with the most reasonable budgets all year round. You can also find two more yurts at the Golden Gate Canyon State Park – just an hour away from the national park. Enjoy the stunning view of the grand Continental Divide and verdant sceneries that stretch as far as the horizon!


Safety and Health Concerns

There are many safety measures and health concerns listed by the National Park Service when it comes to the Rocky Mountain National Park and Preserve. Since most of Colorado comprises elevated landscapes and high mountains, visitors, families, and tourists must follow certain precautions regarding wildlife, rivers, wet rocks, and of course, the mountain weather. In order to ensure a safe and memorable journey, the NPS advises everyone to stay out of rivers during the warmer months. Because of rapid snowmelt, the streams and rivers are usually running very high. Even if you’re an avid swimmer, it’s best to steer clear of water bodies as they can be too deep.

This is not to scare you but every year, there are a significant number of rescues related to unsuspected victims who fell into the water while crossing a stream, hiking, or climbing a rock. Therefore, in order to stay safe, it’s best to plan an itinerary that is away from creeks, rivers, and even rocks right next to the rivers.


Check the Mountain Weather

The climate can quickly become unpredictable in the mountains. A perfectly sunny and bright day can get windy and even escalate to a rainy storm. Don’t worry, though, the temperatures are usually moderate for mountain elevations below 2,865 m. However, if you’re planning on trailing the Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, or Longs Peak, then stay wary of heavy snow showers in July.

As mentioned above, mountain weather can be highly volatile, so prepare well for both the daytime and nighttime. Summer days from June-August usually hit 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and might drop only as low as 40 degrees F. All in all, the national park receives plenty of rain and snow throughout the year. Make sure you go through the weather forecast for at least the following week or two while preparing for your trip.

If you’re planning for a hike or rock-climbing, then pack a few essentials for you and your family. A map, compass, flashlight, raingear, sunglasses, a fire starter, and of course, extra water and food should absolutely be in the bag pack. If you’re traveling in the colder months, throw in a few extra layers of clothes in your gear as well as a first aid kit for you and your kids.


Keep a Safe Distance around Wildlife

The Estes Park, for example, is home to stunning elks and bears; however, it’s important not to disturb the wildlife in the mountains. These animals usually like to be on their own, and approaching or feeding them on your own accord can be perilous. If you’re traveling with kids, take serious measures to keep a safe distance from wildlife as it can be dangerous, especially if you’re hiking.

There are ranger-led animal wildlife-watching programs at the park. Hence, if you’re interested in one, make sure you’re traveling with professional people who know what to do in case they encounter a bear or a mountain lion. There are set precautions by the National Park Service against black bears and lion sightings that have drastically risen in the last few years. However, although wildlife attacks are rare in the region, there’s always a chance of an injury in case you encounter one.

Hence, to improve your safety, always keep your food in a storage locker to avoid any uninvited guests. Always close your vehicles completely and dispose of the garbage in bear-resistant trashcans. Try to stay together in a crowd with your family and other traveling members, especially when it gets dark. And, most importantly, be very cautious of your children. Don’t let them roam around freely on the trail, and give them clear instructions about the wildlife.


Mountain Climbing and Hiking

There are many great trails like Mount Ida, Longs Peak, and Lily Mountain. However, as exciting as the adventure sounds, it is equally important not to attempt rock climbing if you’re a beginner. Scrambling up steep slopes without prior experience can potentially lead to injuries, falls, and accidents. Make sure, you have a professional accompanying you in the journey to help you with the extensive training and proper equipment.


Burned Areas and Falling Trees

As far as burned areas are concerned, you have to be especially careful when visiting the Forest Canyon, trails in the Fern Lake and Spruce Canyon. If you have little ones and pets accompanying you, then stay wary of falling trees, rolling rocks and logs, and even stump holes that can pose a potential threat during high windy periods. You will be offered a detailed guide by the rangers and regulatory staff at the forest areas; however, it’s always a good idea to practice precaution on your own. Any trail structures that could still be smoldering are immediately off-travel. You should avoid off-trail traveling in burned areas of the forests.

If you’re planning to camp in the forest area, always be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazard from falling trees. It’s better to drop the camping plan if the weather gets windy or a snow storm is imminent. Again, staying safe is solely going to be your responsibility.


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

As much as we would like you to enjoy your trip to the hilt, health safety is a must. The spotted fever is a common endemic in mountainous regions, especially at this park. It typically spreads through the bite of an infected tick. This isn’t the same as the Colorado Tick Fever— it can eventually become fatal, although he chances are quite rare.

Protection from ticks and mosquitoes is imperative, so slather on a strong repellent before you hit the trails. Some alarming symptoms to watch out for are high fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and chills. In nearly half the cases, people develop an itchy rash, which can persist for many days. If the malaise continues up to 2-3 weeks, make sure to visit a doctor and get your blood tests done.


Colorado Tick Fever

Tick fever is extremely common in the region. In fact, the disease is carried by nearly one-third of the population in the area. With high fever and extreme malaise being common symptoms, the disease causes severe bouts of fever that appear a week after you are exposed to the infected tick.

If you or any of your family members get a bite, make sure to remove the tick cautiously from the place it has bitten. If you squeeze the tick hard, it may spill toxins into the blood, which can aggravate your condition.

Wear light-colored protective clothing no matter what the weather is to minimize the chances of tick bites. Try to avoid tick-infested areas if you’re camping in a forest area. Always check your children, pets, and family members for ticks, and carefully remove them. So, that’s it. As long as you’re following all the above-mentioned safety tips, you can expect a wonderful experience at the Rocky National Mountain Park. If you truly want to taste the luscious air of the mountains, then you have to prepare accordingly as well.