Rocky Mountain National Park Travel Guide

  • Flowers Along the Trail
    Flowers Along the Trail
    by fred98115
  • Elk Meadows Glacial Valley
    Elk Meadows Glacial Valley
    by fred98115
  • Alluvial Fan Cascades
    Alluvial Fan Cascades
    by fred98115

Rocky Mountain National Park Highlights

  • Pro
    mrclay2000 profile photo

    mrclay2000 says…

     Rich scenery, diverse and abundant wildlife, great vistas 

  • Con
    goingsolo profile photo

    goingsolo says…

     Can't think of any 

  • In a nutshell
    mrclay2000 profile photo

    mrclay2000 says…

     Almost everything on your wilderness checklist! 

Rocky Mountain National Park Things to Do

  • Trail Ridge Road

    A drive across the Trail Ridge Road is an absolute must-do, a highlight of any visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous motorway in the US, much of which is well above tree line. Eight miles of the highway are above 11,000 feet (3,352.8 meters) with a peak elevation of 12,183 feet (3,713.4 m). From the...

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  • Wildlife

    We woke up early every morning we were in RMNP and it was very rewarding. Almost nobody around and so many animals!!We found a whole bunch even out of the park, roaming around Estes Park city area.Inside the park we could see hundred of elks, mule deer, deer and even a moose. We also saw a coyote near one of the visitors center.Wildlife is...

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  • Wild Animal Viewing

    Rocky Mountain Park is noted for the many large animals you can see just about anywhere in the park. We were there when the male elk were battling it out over the females, and we saw this not only in the park but behind the Safeway store along the road. The elk wander around and are not afraid. This does not mean that you should get out of your car...

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  • Bear lake

    The Bear lake area has many great hiking trails and is surrounded by a series of beautiful alpine lakes.

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  • Horseshoe Park Area

    This area by Falls River, is fairly flat and includes Sheep Lake an area that attract Bighorn sheep down from the mountains for the salts and minerals in the lakes.

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  • Alpine Visitor's Center

    At 11,000 ft this visitor's center is close to the parks highest paved areas and gives a good view of the Alpine tundra eco-system. Beware to account for the elevation, do not over exert, drink lots of water and wear sunscreen.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Hotels

Rocky Mountain National Park Restaurants

  • Over The Top Smoked Barbecue

    Located just past the town of Estes Park this barbecue house made the perfect stop after a day of hiking through the park. Smokin' Dave features all the usual cuts of meat, and more. The plates are piled a mile high of food, pork, beef, chicken, and other plates of catfish, corned beef, salmon, sausage and eleven appetizers, 5 desserts, and...

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  • Dining al fresco

    There are no restaurants within the park. Beaver Meadows and Fall River Visitor's center have concessionaires, but, other than that, the only restaurants you'll find are in nearby Estes Park.Rather than take the time to go to a restaurant, take advantage of the picnic areas provided, such as this one in Moraine Park. Its far better to enjoy a meal...

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  • nature calls

    Rocky Mountain National Park has a fair sized gateway town in Estes Park so if you are in the eastern portion of the park, you can head over there for a meal or a drink in the evening. On my trip in 1994, I visited Estes Park Brewery and it's a no frills kind of place that serves typical pub grub and run-of-the-mill micobrews made on the premises....

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Rocky Mountain National Park Nightlife

  • Etoile2B's Profile Photo
    That black lump is a moose we spotted at dusk.

    by Etoile2B Updated Feb 23, 2005

    Any trip to Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t complete without seeing some wildlife. During the day, while you’re likely to see lots of Elk, a moose or two and perhaps a mountain goat, you’ll have a greater chance to see more wildlife after dusk and just before dawn. The tourist population drops drastically when it gets dark and the park doesn’t allow any building in the park to have lights visible to the road so that’s when the animals are more likely to roam freely. Although you might have to look a little harder, as it will be more difficult to spot wildlife in the dark it’s worth a trip. I recommend taking a drive in the park around dawn or just around dusk to spot the most diversity and action. On one of our trips at dusk we spotted fox, moose, elk, big horn sheep to name a few.

    Dress Code: Jeans and a jacket. It can cool down in the evenings even in the Summer.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Safari

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Rocky Mountain National Park Transportation

  • Bear Lake Road

    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....

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  • America The Beautiful

    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...

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  • Old Fall River Road

    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.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Local Customs

  • Bighorn Sheep

    Bighorn sheep are usually found primarily in rocky high elevation areas. However the park has a low elevation lake with high salt and mineral content that attracts sheep making them much easier to view.

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  • Elk

    The park is home to large herds of Elk. During the summer they congregate in the high elevations to feed on the tundra. During the rest of the year they are found at lower elevations.

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  • backcountry red tape & etiquette

    Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park's backcountry is one of the park's true delights. This is one park that has backpacking trails to fit all skill and fitness levels. They even have one spot that is wheel-chair accessible. Many of the trails are quite short which is unusual compared to backcountry camping in most other US National Parks. For...

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Rocky Mountain National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Rapid weather changes any time of year!

    RMNP is very high in altitude and the weather can change on a dime.You can have a beautiful spring day.. 75 degrees sunny.. and an hour later have snow.Although this is true in the entire park, be especially cautious on trail ridge road and the higher elevations... driving, hiking or just enjoying the sights.Wind can also be fierce and don't forget...

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  • Wildlife is more dangerous than you...

    RMNP is known for abundant wildlife, especially elk, mule deer and some moose. The park is also home to black bears, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and many other smaller species.Year after year I watch tourists flock into the park amazed not only by the views but by the herds of elk, or the moose on the side of the road... also I watch...

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  • Slippery trails

    Snow is not the real nemesis in winter hiking. The constantly near freezing temperatures in this region create icy conditions which are far more difficult to traverse than a blanket of powder. Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures in January, all trails along Bear Lake Road were icy. If you're planning to visit the park in the winter,...

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Rocky Mountain National Park Tourist Traps

  • Estes Park

    This town is set in a beautiful valley, and it does have some interesting history. You even have the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to write "The Shining." With that said, I think your best bet would be to use the town as a place for lodging, food, and fuel. The rest of the time is better spent in the park. After all, that is what you...

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  • Road stops

    The scenic outlooks along the main roads of the park do offer great views but are often crowded with people who would prefer to not get out of their car except when they need to stretch their legs. Remember the park has many beautiful areas. Why not find one of your own?

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  • Rocky Mountain National Park Hotels

    4 Hotels in Rocky Mountain National Park

    100 Reviews and Opinions

Rocky Mountain National Park What to Pack

  • the ability to find (& enjoy) Plan B

    Rocky Mountain National Park offers great backcountry camping so a backpack is something you should bring even if you have just been thinking of giving it a try. A day pack is essential to carry extra clothing and food on day hikes into the mountains. A good pair of sturdy hiking books with ankle support is what you need for tackling the many...

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  • Cold or Hot?

    If you come to this park you won't need much luggage because you won't need to dress up. Restaurants are all casual. Bring a wind breaker for cool nights and rainy days (summer).Other months than June, July and August...you might need a jacket, gloves, etc. The weather can be cold and snowy. Lightning storms are common, don't get near old dead...

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  • Be Prepared for Weather

    Smart people - like my brother and sister-in-law - bring rain gear, warm sweaters, and good footwear even for a short stroll in Rocky Mountain National Park.Not so bright people like Yooperprof are caught unprepared when it starts to hail at 12,000 feet. Oh well.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Snow den

    Bear Lake shuttle stop covered in snow. There is no shuttle in the wintertime, as the lack of crowds renders this service unnecessary. The stop is used in wintertime by snowshoers and skiiers who are gearing up for a trek down one of the area's icy trails.

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  • High Alpine Meadows

    The mountains are the big scenic draw in this park, but equally popular are the sprawling alpine meadows, teeming with wildflowers and elk in the summertime. As the road climbs to the tundra, wildflowers and wildlife are scarse. But in the relatively lower lying areas, both are plentiful.

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  • Moraine Park

    Moraine Park is located on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is actually a valley and the Big Thompson river runs through it. Best of all, the road is open year round (Trail Ridge Road, which runs through RMNP, is closed during the winter.)

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Rocky Mountain National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Skiing

    Skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park is not the most popular activity since Colorado has numerous skui resorts with better slopes. But, for anyone who is interested in a more solitary experience than crowding into the gondola at Vail mountain, cross country skiing routes are available in the park.

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  • Holzwarth Historic Site Trail

    The trail leading to the Holzwarth Historic Site is a short 1/2 mile paved trail with interpretive signs along the way.

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  • Tundra Communities Trail

    There are around 350 miles of hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. I only hiked a few short trails that coincided with stops along the Trail Ridge Road. This was the most challenging; although it really wasn't a difficult trail. It was one of the longest of the three, the highest in elevation, and fairly steep at times. Most of the trail...

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Rocky Mountain National Park Favorites

  • Trail Ridge Road

    The Trail Ridge Road (US Highway 34) meanders over 40 miles through some of the prettiest parts of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are a number of stops along the way all of which are worth the time. The spectacular beauty and the people I met.

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  • Rocky Mountain National Park

    The Rocky Mountains stretch from Alaska to Mexico, some 2700 miles, forming "the backbone" of North America. This makes the Rockies the longest mountain barrier in the world. It forms the Continental Divide which divides the area that drains into the Atlantic from the area that drains into the Pacific. The park is also home to the highest major...

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  • sometimes, she's so German

    The morning brought another fiery display on the peaks hemming in the lake. Once the show had concluded we made breakfast on the lake shore to take advantage of the sun, forgoing the one the elves built. It was so nice we wished we had reserved another night at Odessa and walked out the way we came but a circle is what we booked and that's how we...

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Comments (2)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:46 AM

    Annual National Park Week is April 19-27 this year with lots of special events happening at the parks. Even better, Saturday 4/19 and Sunday 4/30 are FREE admission days so it's a great opportunity to pack up the car with family and/or friends and go check out one of our national treasures!
    http://www.nps.gov/npweek/

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    9/15/2013 TRAVELER ALERT: Heavy rains and severe flooding in Colorado has washed out and closed roads and trails in and around both Rocky Mountain NP and Estes and other parts of the region. Visitors destined for these areas should reference the Rocky Mountain NP website and Denver local news stations for latest updates:

    http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com
    http://www.9news.com



 
Explore Deeper into Rocky Mountain National Park
Hike the Alluvial Fan Trail
Things to Do
Just like when it rained ash
Warnings and Dangers
Trail Ridge Road
Things to Do
Bear Lake in the winter
Things to Do
Standing on top of the Continental Divide
Things to Do
Glacier Gorge Junction TH to Black Lake Hike
Things to Do
deep in the Wild Basin
Things to Do
Two Great Lakes in one Excellent Day Hike
Things to Do
Bird Watching
Things to Do
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
Things to Do
Sheep Lakes
Things to Do
Meet the People
Things to Do
Have a Picnic
Things to Do
Taxidermy Shed
Things to Do
HHS: Inside the Home
Things to Do
HHS: Holzwarth Trout Lodge
Things to Do
HHS: Colorado River
Things to Do
HHS: Miner's Cabin
Things to Do
Holzwarth Historic Site
Things to Do
Fairview Curve
Things to Do
Poudre Lake
Things to Do
Continental Divide
Things to Do
Milner Pass
Things to Do
Medicine Bow Curve
Things to Do
Gore Range
Things to Do
Warning Signs
Warnings and Dangers
Lava Cliffs
Things to Do
Do Not Be These People
Warnings and Dangers
Rock Cut Trail Views
Things to Do
Forest Canyon Viewpoint Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Forest Canyon
Things to Do
Rainbow Curve
Things to Do
Many Parks Curve
Things to Do
Beaver Ponds
Things to Do
West Horseshoe Park
Things to Do
Sheep Lakes
Things to Do
Wildlife: Chipmunks
Things to Do
Wildlife: Mule Deer
Things to Do
Wildlife: Moose
Things to Do
Wildlife: Elk
Things to Do
Map of Rocky Mountain National Park

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