Rocky Mountain National Park acts as a kind of gateway to the mountains beyond Denver and Boulder. Most people fly to Denver, 80 miles southeast, and rent a car or take the daily shuttle service that takes visitors from the airport to the city of Estes Park and the main entrance, Beaver Meadows. The other three entrances, Fall River and Wild Basic on the east side and Grand Lake on the west side, receive far fewer visitors. The park has a free bus from the Estes Park Visitor Center to popular trails such as Glacier Basin and Bear Lake, but there is no public transportation to get to the western side of the park.
Most people frequent the park in summer, Given its location and high elevation, the park has a limited summer season and most roads are covered with snow during the winter months. Snow stays well into May in these alpine surroundings, so spring tends to be a warmer continuation of winter, with temperatures ranging from 30 to 50 degrees. But wildlife begins to be more active in this period, especially the bighorn sheep, which stop in spring.
If you want to avoid snow, stay on the Estes Park side, which is significantly lower in April and May than on the Great Lake side. Some years, lower elevations see temperatures reach sixty by the end of April. Trail Ridge Road is usually open for Memorial Day, and things really get interesting in June. You'll still find snow accumulations at higher elevations (we drove in July of a year, and the snow banks on the sides of Trail Ridge Road were higher than my van), but you'll also find wildflowers that appear along the high-rise tundra and lower-elevation meadows from June to August (head for the this).
Inlet Trail or Cub Lake (for guaranteed sightings). Temperatures can reach the mid-eighties, but you can also encounter a strange snowstorm at higher elevations. You could argue that the months of September and October are the best time to visit the park, especially if you can take a weekday trip when most potential visitors are working or at school. While autumn can bring occasional snowstorms, roads and trails stay open through October most years.
Temperatures are mild during the day, reaching fifty, and poplars begin to change in mid-September. That magical spectacle only compares to the moose routine, when large males begin to fight and sing clarines for the affections of the females, which begins in September and continues through October and can be witnessed in the Horseshoe Park area at sunrise and sunset. The best campground in the field is Aspenglen, located near the east entrance of Fall River, a short drive from Trail Ridge Road. The 52 sites are surrounded by Douglas firs and Lodgepole and Ponderosa pines.
Grab one of five secluded tent sites on the loop. For a more primitive experience, show up early at one of the 26 tent-only sites at Longs Peak, which sits on the southeastern edge of the park at an elevation of 9,500 feet and places you within a day's walking distance of Lake Chasm and the park's iconic Longs Peak, which is reached by a 15-mile round trip route through the Keyhole Route (discussed below). Plan to bring all your food with you, as the Trail Ridge store, next to the Alpine Visitor Center, is the only restaurant within the park. Yes, Emerald Lake Trail is going to be crowded, but you can't make any money on this 3.5-mile round trip, which borders the edge of some of the park's prettiest alpine lakes and has views of spectacular peaks, including Longs and Hallett.
The prize reaches Emerald Lake, which is framed by the 12,000-foot mountains of the Continental Divide. Watch for moose on lake edges and pikas and marmots on rocky outcrops along the trail. Colorado has 14 named glaciers, six of which are within the park's boundaries. The Andrews Glacier could be the most spectacular and fun to explore.
Experience the park's high-altitude tundra along the 4.8-mile point-to-point Ute Trail, which starts just west of the Alpine Visitor Center at the highest point of Trail Ridge Road. The entire route is above the tree line and ends at 11,660 feet along Tombstone Ridge, and offers views of Forest Canyon, Continental Divide and Longs Peak. In summer, this trail is a perfect spot to admire wildflowers, with species such as the snow-lover, alpine sunflower and white alpine phlox appearing after the snow has melted. Bring your mountain bike and head west from the park to Grand County, where Winter Park Resort operates Trestle, one of the best mountain bike lift parks in the country, which now has a new gondola that will take you to the top of the mountain.
Twenty miles north, Granby Ranch has an elevator that serves both winding downhill and cross-country trails. Spend an afternoon recovering in the pools at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa, or look for the primitive Radium hot springs, which are carved into the Colorado River, south of the town of Kremmling. North of the park, raft the Class III-IV Cache la Poudre River, the only designated wild and scenic national river in the state, passing through the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. It's an ideal way to see maroon sheep on the cliffs of Poudre Canyon.
On the east side of the park, drive through 25-mile long Big Thompson Canyon from Estes Park to Loveland. Granite walls house climbers, while sporadic roadside trips offer excellent fly fishing. Join Outside+ to get Outside magazine, access to exclusive content, thousands of training plans and more. Over 350 miles of trails crisscross the park linking alpine lakes, rugged peaks, dense lodgepole pine forests and rocky tundra.
Dominating the horizon and reaching a height of 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is the ultimate adventure for enthusiastic hikers. If you want to see the highlights of Rocky Mountain National Park without having to worry about the practicalities or plan a lot, you can also opt for one of the many tours to the park. With high mountain peaks, hiking trails leading to alpine lakes and waterfalls, wildlife, and a scenic drive along one of the highest highways in the U.S. In the US, Rocky Mountain National Park is a pleasure to explore.
Many people (myself included) consider it the most beautiful waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park. This one-day Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary is all about maximizing your mountain time, while adjusting properly to altitude. You can walk to Moraine Park from the parking lot for the Deer Mountain hike (but this lot is very small). I hope this helps you plan your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and experience the dramatic beauty of the Colorado Rockies.
The hike to Lake Odessa and then Lake Fern is a relatively low-traffic trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Longs Peak, at 14,259 feet, is the only fourteen in the park, but for serious hikers, reaching the top of this giant is one of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. As one of the Rocky Mountain's most accessible activities (with full wheelchair access), the Alluvial Fan Trail is a great hike to get out and try out what the park has to offer. It's one of the first things to do in the Rocky Mountains for many people, as it's a great activity for families and those looking for an easy, picturesque hike to stretch their legs.
If you only have one day in Rocky Mountain NP, you should hike and drive down Trail Ridge Road, one of the most picturesque mountain roads in the U.S. UU. To see the best spot to watch the sunrise in Rocky Mountain NP, head to Dream Lake, well worth the early warning. Whether you're looking for a new route to adrenaline or just indulge in your favorite pastime, the unique and varied landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park offer something fun.