Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.Nathaniel Hawthorne
About the Park
Rocky Mountain National Park marks the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado. This magnificent park has dozens of peaks that exceed 12,000 feet in elevation. The park also contains the Continental Divide, which runs through the center of the park. The nearest city is Estes Park, Colorado, near the east entrance.
Check out the view from the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Hiking some of the 355 miles of trails to see elk, lakes, and amazing mountain views
- Go to Bear Lake for a scenic walk around an alpine lake
- Drive the 48-mile long Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake. Be sure to watch for sheep and elk, along with stopping at great viewpoints like Forest Canyon Overlook.
- Go see Alberta Falls for great waterfall views
- See herds of elk in Moraine Park
This experience was a great visit to Rocky Mountain National Park on a Labor Day weekend. In the morning we went into the park, we woke up to lots of snow. The 17-inch snowfall was the largest ever for that early date in the season. But, we still hiked, made snow angels, and enjoyed the beauty of this mountain paradise in our video.
Size of Park
There are 355 miles of hiking trails in the park!
Rocky Mountain National Park protects a vast range of forests, mountains, and alpine tundra. Located in Colorado, the park is also called the Land of Extremes due to its extreme weather patterns.
The park is spread across 265,807 acres of land and is also an excellent place for wildlife viewing. With its diverse landscape, from meadows to lakes to rugged peaks, everyone finds something to do in the Rocky Mountains. Some popular activities include hiking, mountain climbing, biking, horseback riding, and nature/wildlife tours. More than 3 million visitors come here each year to experience the natural beauty of this region.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has more than 300 miles of hiking trails which are a great place to start if you want to properly experience the beauty of this landscape. These trails range from easy to strenuous, so almost all hikers find a track matching their skill set!
Bear Lake Nature Trail
This is the easiest trail in the park, and the lake is beautiful. We hiked this trail in the snow. Check out our video here.
Hikers walk amid an enchanting forest and circle their way around a stunning subalpine lake. Some peaks, such as Longs Peak, Half Mountain, and Hallet Peak, are also visible here.
Emerald Lake Trail
This trail is not as short as Bear Lake Nature Trail, but it is still categorized as one of the easiest hikes in the park. The trail can be accessed without a hassle, and inexperienced hikers can also navigate it easily. Many first-time hikers choose this trail as an ‘initiation’ hike.
The trail provides panoramic views of the park, where you can admire some of the most gorgeous alpine lakes in the Tyndall Gorge. Other than that, you can also visit Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Emerald Lake.
Fern Lake Trail
This trail has a moderate difficulty level with an elevation of 600 meters. However, it is the length of the trail that can get to you if you don’t have a lot of hiking experience. Being 8 miles long, the Fern Lake Trail starts at Bear Lake and crosses a dense forest before taking you to the Odessa Gorge. With a distant view of Grace Falls, hikers can clearly see the looking mountain peaks rising from the shimmering waters!
Continental Divide Trail
This trail has an elevation of more than 200 meters and is 9.3 miles long. This trail takes you through the rugged nature where you can enjoy scenic views throughout the hike. Continental Divide Trail also provides some of the clearest 360-degree views you will get in the park.
Apart from the Never Summer Mountain Range, hikers can get a birds-eye view of Poudre Lake from the Continental Divide Trail. Moreover, many tourists are often able to spot wildlife, including the yellow-bellied marmots.
Longs Peak Keyhole Route
If you are an avid hiker looking for a challenge, there is no better trail than the Longs Peak Trail. The trail has an elevation gain of 1524 meters and is almost 15 miles long. The best route to Longs Peak is the Keyhole Route which tests your hiking skills.
On this trail, you will need to do more climbing than hiking. But, on the plus side, you will also get some of the most breathtaking views as you climb the enormous vertical rock and scramble through loose rocks!
Camping in the Park
There are five campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; Moraine Park Campground, Glacier Basin Campground, Aspenglen Campground, Longs Peak Campground, and Timber Creek Campground. While all campgrounds are available during summer, Moraine Park Campground is the only one open during the winter.
There are 239 sites in Moraine Park Campground scattered throughout the forest, making it a popular camping spot in the park. During winter, it is a first-come, first-served campground where only the B-Loop is open.
Water and dump stations are unavailable on this campground during the colder months. Moraine Park Campground will remain closed between May 2023 and early summer 2024 due to construction, so book your slots before that!
This campground can only be booked through reservation and is located on Bear Lake Road. The hike alone to the campground is enjoyable, while the campsites are equally beautiful and picturesque. With 139 campsites, the campground offers potable water and toilets.
This seasonal campground is located along the Colorado River at an elevation of 3000 meters. This is the only campground located in the western part of the park and has 100 campsites with seasonal potable water and firewood for sale. Campfires are also allowed here.
If you are looking for campgrounds with more amenities or want to book a place in winter, you can look outside the national park. Hermit’s Hollow Campground and Manor RV Park are two campgrounds near the park. Both the campgrounds are just a few miles away from the national park.
- Hermit’s Hollow Campground provides a vast variety of trails and is a popular campground among bikers and hikers. There are few amenities here, but the campground offers spacious tent sites and vault toilets.
- Manor RV Park offers panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and a playground.
Alpine Ridge shows you a wider view of the Rocky Mountains. While walking through the majestic alpine tundra and colorful wildflowers, you will also get a glimpse of the Ypsilon Mountain, Mount Chapin, Mount Chiquita, and the Never Summer Mountains. The Ridge is a bit steep, and due to erosion, steps have been built here to make the climb easier for tourists.
Gem Lake is truly a ‘hidden gem’ in Rocky Mountain. It provides a peaceful environment that is perfect for those looking for solitude. The lake is in the middle of granite domes referred to as the Lumpy Ridge Area. Without any outlet or inlet, the Gem Lake is like a shallow pond created by rainfall and snowmelt.
A short 1.6 miles hike leads to this majestic waterfall in the middle of tall alpine trees. The waterfall is magnificent during early summer and late spring when water starts gushing down from the snow melting above.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is another waterfall that is a popular spot in the park. This 365 feet tall cascade overlooks Telluride and looks straight out of a dream! With alpine trees surrounding the rocky canyon, the waterfall pours down from the top with unmatched grace and beauty!
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