Bear Lake Road is 10 miles long and it is packed with trails and scenic views. If your time in the park is limited, or if Trail Ridge Road is snowed under, this is the place to go.
The road ends at the trailhead for the lake which shares its name. In this area, you'll find a connecting network of trails leading to Bear, Cub, Fern and Chasm lakes. All are pretty easy hikes and provide great low altitude views.
This area is extremely popular in the summertime and parking is very limited. If you plan to explore the area during this time of year, get here early or plan to take the shuttle over to Bear Lake.
Rocky Mountain National Park is not well-serviced by mass transit as is the norm in the United States and its national parks. After six months of traveling around the western US and the many amazing national parks out there, I found only a handful that were truly accessible by mass transit. Thankfully, even in some of the parks that are not serviced by bus or train, the parks themselves are implementing shuttles within.
Rocky Mountain National Park does have a free park shuttle that runs along Bear Lake Road, it's most popular and hence congested scenic drive. Trail Ridge Road is a much longer remote road and would probably not work well with a shuttle but only time will tell if one comes to pass. Let's hope so.
In general, a visit to Rocky National Park is most easily done by your own vehicle. A smaller one is necessary on some of the more winding scenic drives. We were on a six-month camping trip around the US National Parks and driving was our only option, allowing us to carry all the gear we needed for our various endeavors.
Sample distances: Rocky Mountain National Park to Denver: 70 miles/90 minutes. RMNP to Boulder: 40 miles/1 hour. RMNP to Fort Collins: 45 miles/1.15 hours. RMNP to Mesa Verde National Park: 500 miles/10.5 hours.
Rocky Mountain National Park charges $20 for a carload to enter for up to 7 days. Single persons can enter on foot, motorcycle, or bike for $10 for the same time period. We were traveling with the America The Beautiful Pass which allows entry into all US National Parks and Federally Administered Lands for up to a year for a carload for $80. This represents one of the greatest values in all of travel.
Old Fall River Road, not shown in the photo, was the original road across the mountains. Today, a gravel road leads from Horseshoe Park up to the Apine Visitors Center. Its a good way to see some of Rocky's scenery under less crowded conditions.
If you are shape, a bicycle provides an excellent opportunity to get around the park. The cars will be travelling slow due to the many turns, the speed limit, and other various sites in the park. Near the entrance, the park road is not too steep. Of course, Trail Ridge Road will present the biggest challenge.
The best advantage that the bicycle has is that you can see more around you than you would from a car. There could be a good opportunity to spot wildlife. You will never have to worry about getting a parking space anywhere either.
As for the trails themselves, mountain biking is typically forbidden here. You probably would not want to try it anyway since many trails are popular and you will encounter quite a few people on them.
Nationally designated as an all-American road:Soaring to an elevation of 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road seems to leave the earth behind. It slices through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, entering a world of rare alpine beauty. Distant peaks loom in all directions, while fragrant wildflowers blanket the tundra in mid-summer. Sharp-eyed observers can usually spy elk, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife traversing the meadows and crags. Higher than any paved through-road in the country, this cliff-hugging highway is as impressive for its engineering as for its stunning vistas. You can't find a road like this one anywhere outside of Colorado.
This is oldest scenic byway. This 55-mile-long route provides matchless views of the Continental Divide and its timbered approaches. The string of popular attractions along the way - Rocky Mountain National Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Eldora Ski Resort - combine recreation with nature preservation. The gravel roads criss-crossing the main highway lead to high-country lakes, trailheads, campgrounds, the Moffat Tunnel's east portal, and ghost towns at Hesse and Apex. Established in 1918 this is
This highway stretches 40 miles along hwy 36 from Nederland to Estes Park. Along the way you pass at the foot of several majestic Colorado Peaks.
You can drive to just about any trailhead in Rocky. Trail Ridge Road roughly severes the park into northern and southern halves. Some trailheads can be reached by driving Colorado state highways outside the park boundaries, such as CO-7 to Longs Peak campground and trailhead.
A majority of people who visit Rocky Mountain National Park have never driven on roads as steep and serpentine as the ones within the park. One tip..Use your gears to slow you down, do not ride the brakes. It can cause major problems in a hurry.
The driving can get kind of scary, just ask my husband, he was the passenger and I was white-knuckling it. A very beautiful drive...