Elizabeth of The Travelogue is sharing all about visiting Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park!
I dwell in Denver, Colorado – which is simply an hour and a half drive from stunning Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park (RMNP), making it an superior weekend or day journey for each Coloradans and guests.
RMNP is the third most visited nationwide park in the USA, and for good motive: excessive alpine lakes, insane peaks, tons of wildlife, and miles on miles of trails to discover. There’s really one thing for everybody!
Right here’s the final word information to visiting Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park!
The Greatest Time to Go to
RMNP could be visited year-round, 24/7, and has one thing to supply for each season.
Summertime is arguably among the best seasons to go to the park, as by this level the entire trails will probably be away from snow. You’ll get clear, blue skies, and probably the most snug temperatures of the yr.
Wildflowers will probably be overlaying the park grounds, and wildlife will probably be out and about. Summer season can also be the very best alternative to camp or go backpacking, as temperatures at night time don’t drop too low. Because it’s so accessible and the climate is so nice, summer time is certainly the preferred season of the yr.
Fall in Colorado is in contrast to another, because the yellow Aspens peak someday in September – lighting up the park with shade.
That is additionally the very best time to see “fall-rut,” or elk mating season, the place they are often seen clashing horns and bugling. In the course of the leaf-peeping season, it’s really useful to return on a weekday if potential.
A a lot quieter time within the park, however nonetheless *snow* a lot to do. Although most of RMNP will probably be lined in a white sheet, you possibly can hire snowshoes from Estes Park for the day so you possibly can discover the park in a brand new form of means.
Know that from mid-fall, via winter, and into spring, many amenities and roads are closed down.
For the reason that park is at the next elevation, most of the trails are nonetheless lined in snow till June – the primary time I accomplished Sky Pond in early Might, I used to be sinking as much as my knees in snow!
If mountaineering is your essential purpose, wait till summer time. Trails could be hit and miss through the spring for accessibility.
*Please notice: resulting from COVID-19, RMNP is limiting guests into the park by requiring each day permits on a timed entry system from 6 AM to five PM. Plan forward and go to Recreation.gov to buy your permits.
How attractive is Garden Lake Path?
The right way to Get There
The easiest way to get to RMNP is to fly into Denver Worldwide Airport and hire a automobile. From there, you’ll attain Estes Park in underneath two hours. As soon as within the park, the free shuttle will take you to a number of the most well-known trailheads.
You may as well enter RMNP from Grand Lake, however for ease of entry to the park and the preferred trails, the Estes Park entrance is the best way to go.
Taking the Shuttles
RMNP has a number of trailheads to discover – however most of them replenish early. To fight this, there are two bus stops in RMNP – one on the Estes Park Customer Middle, and one on the Park and Experience.
From the customer’s heart, you’ll be taken to the Park and Experience, and select both the Moraine Park or Bear Lake Route. Although Estes Park does present shuttles to the customer’s heart, I like to recommend driving into the park for the sake of time.
All of those shuttles are free, and RMNP is effectively marked to seek out your means round!
Stanley Resort – Estes Park
The place to Keep
For an iconic keep the place Stephen King was impressed to jot down “The Shining,” don’t miss out on The Stanley Hotel. Perched on a hill, you’ll additionally get large views. Do notice, they provide excursions as effectively, so it’s busier and an general pricier choice.
An inexpensive choice nestled on the river with loads of patio space and video games is Murphy’s River Lodge.
Airbnb can also be an awesome choice to seek out houses when views and quiet house.
If you truly want to immerse yourself in the park for a weekend, camping is the way to go! RMNP provides opportunities to stay in your RV, pitch a tent next to your car, or wilderness camp, meaning, you’ll carry everything in and out on your back.
Most spots are reservation only and fill up quickly, but some are first come first serve. These are only open during the summer season.
What to Do
You can’t visit RMNP without hiking. Below I’ll break down some of the most accessible and beautiful hikes by the trailhead.
Bear Lake Trailhead: One of the most popular areas in the park, and for a good reason – these lakes are beautiful!
Start your hike off by walking around Bear Lake – if you’re feeling ambitious, get there for sunrise. Then, with your final destination as Emerald Lake, hike by Nymph and Dream Lake on your way.
In total, you’ll come in under 4 miles – this hike is great for everyone including families and those who aren’t used to hiking at elevation. Make it all the way to Emerald Lake for the iconic RMNP photo opp!
Glacier Gorge Trailhead: Under a mile from the trailhead, Alberta Falls is a way to get in a quick waterfall fix. From there, continue on to the staggering Sky Pond for a 9.5-mile round trip hike. Sky Pond is one of the more difficult but worth it hikes in the park. It is also very popular
Lawn Lake Trailhead: A quieter trailhead, the trek to Lawn Lake leads you through gullies and gorges and gives you a pristine lake with this 13-mile round trip hike.
Long’s Peak Trailhead: This is the only trailhead you can get to without driving through the Visitor’s Center (though you still need a pass to enter). Chasm Lake clocks in at about 10 miles and takes you through forests as well as high terrain.
If you’re an experienced hiker, Long’s Peak is at 14,000 feet and some routes require some technical climbing skills. For better views of Long’s Peak, hike Mount Lady Washington at 7.8 miles. Beware, most hikes around this trailhead are extremely windy above the tree line!
The above hikes are the most accessible well known, and incredibly gorgeous. To find other hikes, download the All Trails app – which allows you to filter by difficultly, length, and features.
Scenic Drives & Wildlife Watching
Old Fall River Road & Trail Ridge Road are both over 11,000 feet above sea level, giving you tremendous views of the park – and an awesome chance to spot wildlife! Trail Ridge Road is a common spot for engagement photos due to the sweeping vistas.
In the winter, this is a fantastic option to get outside. Shops in Estes Park will provide day rentals. Bear Lake and Emerald Lake are perfect trails for this.
The town of Estes Park is adorable and shouldn’t be missed! Stroll around the main street to grab souvenirs, candies at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and grab a local craft beer from Wapiti Pub.
For a view, take the Aerial Tramway, and to spend a relaxing day on the water, rent a kayak on Lake Estes.
What to Pack
Layers, layers, layers!
Weather at high elevation is often unpredictable, and thunderstorms commonly roll in around late afternoon (another reason to start your hikes early). Pack your hiking boots or something with good ankle support, and make sure to bring an extra jacket.
Depending on the season, you might want additional shirts, gloves, and hats. For hikes over 11,000 feet, you’ll definitely want a windbreaker and sunscreen. And don’t forget the snacks and water! If you have a hydration pack, bring it, along with high nutrient foods like nuts, fruits, and protein bars.
RMNP is open 24/7 but only requires a reservation or entrance fee from 6 AM to 5 PM. If you want to skip these fees, get into the park before or after these hours!
You likely won’t have service in the park! Download your maps ahead of time.
Though you can easily visit RMNP and Estes Park in one day, if you’re coming from out of town, I’d recommend a full 3 days in the park: two days to hike from two different trailheads, and another to drive around the park and explore Estes Park. And trust me, you’ll want to come back for more even then!
Remember, in the park, follow Leave No Trace Rules to maintain RMNP stunning and clear!
If you wish to make RMNP part of an awesome Colorado journey, don’t miss out on cities like Denver and Boulder.
For issues to do in different Colorado cities, try The Travelogue Online’s Guide to Colorado.