The astounding natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains is exemplified and amplified in Rocky Mountain National Park, a hub of Colorado outdoor adventure. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting, ziplining, and wildlife watching are just a few of the ways to experience the area’s magic. In the winter months, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and other snow-sport lovers frolic amongst white-washed peaks.
With numerous ways to experience the natural landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park, tours and guides are available to assist with making the most of your time there. Photo enthusiasts can try a photography tour or photo safari, while group bus tours provide an overview of the area. Elk watching and other nature tours are available in summer. More than 350 miles (563 kilometers) of hiking trails wind through the 450-square-mile (1,166-square-kilometer) park. Visitors can keep an eye out for wildlife including elk, bighorn sheep, moose, and the occasional bear. Cyclists follow Trail Ridge Road, while hikers can walk to lakes following the Bear Lake Trailhead, Fern Lake Trail, and easy walks to Calypso Cascades and Gem Lake. Guided adventures are available for all outdoor activities, and often include equipment rental and transportation.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Even summer’s mild temperatures drop in the evenings, so sweaters are worn year-round.
- Wheelchair-accessible areas can be found throughout the park.
- Inside the park there are two visitor centers: Fall River and Alpine. Outside the park, visitor centers are at Beaver Meadows, Kawuneeche, and Lily Lake.
How to Get There
Rocky Mountain National Park is about 70 miles north of Denver. Trail Ridge Road runs through the park (open May to October), and free shuttles run to trailheads and to downtown Estes Park. Grand Lake is the town closest to the park entrance (best accessed by car).
When to Get There
Alpine wildflowers fill the valleys in spring, and cross-country skiers hit the slopes here in winter. Summer is the most popular time to visit—and thus the most crowded—but all seasons offer outdoor activities and access to unbridled nature.