Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful place to visit, with scenic views of wildflowers, elk herds, and majestic snow-covered peaks. But beneath the beauty of RMNP's forests and mountains lies an important conservationist history.
There are many activities to do at this amazing National Park in Colorado. As an Eldorado National Forest campground, Rocky Mountain National Park is a hub for hiking of all levels, ranging from easy walks to long hikes in the mountains and a multitude of waterfalls and fantastic scenery. The park's trails are well-marked and the park rangers are very helpful with "trail advise."
There are also several ranger-led hikes throughout the year. Most of these hikes run a half or full day and include lunch and your park entrance fee. These hikes vary from strenuous to moderate depending on the terrain but they are also appropriate for seniors or those with mobility issues.
Trail Ridge Road:
Trail Ridge Road is the highest road in the United States with an elevation of 12,183 (as of 2016) feet. Along this relatively lonely trail, you can hike half a mile or one and a half miles with great views at every turn.
There are a few rock scrambles on the side of Trail Ridge Road that can add some extra difficulty to your hikes but most people will stay on the road. The view at the top is well worth it with panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park and beyond. There are concession stands and restrooms along the way at popular vantage points.
It is suggested to start at the Colorado River Trailhead and drive towards the Alpine Visitor Center (about 13 miles in length). There are also several off-shoot trails you can take from both ends of TRR, towards Granby or Estes Park.
A great way to see RMNP is by using the Rocky Mountain National Park Shuttle Service. These shuttles run all through the park and are an easy way to get from one side of the park to another without having to worry about rush hour traffic, parking your vehicle, or getting lost in a wooded area.
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center:
The Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Campground are at 8,753 feet in elevation. There are several maps and park information available at the Center and they have free "Trail Guide" pamphlets that can be purchased. This is a great place to begin your hikes in RMNP.
There are two lookout points on the way to the Meadow from either end of TRR. From Trail Ridge Road, you can see Longs Peak at 15,259ft – one of Colorado's Fourteeners – or Mount Meeker at 12,754ft or Castle Mountain at 12,772ft atop Parry Ridge
There are a few hiking trails to explore at Beaver Meadows. The Lone Pine Trail is a nice view at the top of the ridge with lots of wildflowers. This trail is short and flat and will take you only an hour-long walk to enjoy this area fully.
The Lumpy Ridge Trail (also called the North Fork Trail) goes into the Mount Ida area which has wonderful views of Longs Peak and Estes Cone beyond. There are great views from either direction on this trail, but it is more difficult if you go towards Mount Ida as you have to climb up a rock face. The trail can still be done by all ages, though, if you are careful.
Downtown Estes Park:
The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park in the town of Estes Park. The downtown area is filled with shops, restaurants, and bars – there are even ice cream parlours for the kids.
Downtown Estes offers many different lodging options from hotels to cabins along the river. There are two campgrounds in town as well – one on each side of the river that runs on a reservation system. Most shops and restaurants are open year-round but they do close early during the off-seasons (months in which temperatures drop below 40 degrees).
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