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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the USA and is definitely one of the bucket-list destinations for many national park and outdoor lovers. Rocky Mountain National Park has spectacular landscapes and spans over the Continental Divide in northern Colorado, USA. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The Park offers different landscapes through majestic snow capped rocky mountains, jagged granite peaks, vast and windswept alpine tundra, picturesque forested valleys, wild woodlands, pristine lakes, tall and seasonal golden aspen trees, graceful waterfalls, colorful wildflowers, and amazing wildlife and many more. The park is home for more than 60 species of mammals, including elk, bighorn sheep, and moose.The park features astonishing alpine scenery through a well accessible series of extraordinary trails.

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Quick Facts and Tips

  • Best time to Visit: June to September
    • Fall is great with clear and crips air, blue sky with aspen trees turning golden, but prepare yourself for very chilly morning and evenings
    • Summer is most comfortable, but be ready to beat the crowd
    • Spring is unpredictable, varies between warm, cold, wet and dry and many trails are still covered with snow
  • Fly Into
    • Denver International Airport: Approximately 80 miles to Beaver Meadow visitor Center
  • Clothing
    • Summer: Casual t-shirts, shorts, tank tops, capris, rain jackets, comfortable hiking shoes, light jackets or long sleeves for the cool morning and evenings
    • Fall and Spring: Long sleeves, fleece and warm jackets, vests, scarf, hat, gloves, and comfortable hiking shoes
  • Accommodations: East side Estes park is bigger and has more lodging and restaurants compared to West side Grand Lake. No lodging inside the park, but campsites are available
  • What to expect
    • Impressive snow capped mountains, Wild Woodlands, Jagged Granite peaks and Forested Valleys, Windswept Alpine Tundra, Pristine Lakes, Graceful Waterfalls, Colorful Wildflowers, and Amazing Wildlife
  • How many days: 2 to 3 days
  • Entrance Fee: $25 per vehicle,  $15/$25 per person/motorcycle
  • Be sure to check the Park Website for current updates on roads closures and trails conditions before you heading out
  • Check the weather forecast before you go. Weather changes rapidly so wear layers and  carry rain gear/extra clothing
  • Trail Ridge Road is generally open from the late May through October, depending on weather conditions. Take food and water so you can spend the day touring
  • Starting early is the best way not only to beat the traffic, but also for the best lighting, more elbow room, increased chance of seeing wildlife, and beating out the afternoon thunderstorms
  • Expect long lines, wait times, and delays at entrance stations during the busiest summer season
  • Use park free shuttles as the parking lots fill up quickly and roads are getting congested due to heavy traffic. The free shuttle runs every 30 mins between 9am to 8:30pm from Estes Park Visitor center. Free parking is available at Estes Park Visitor Center. The free Hiker Shuttle Express Route takes you into the park and you can catch the shuttle to Bear Lake Route, Moraine Park Route, or just start hiking directly from the Park & Ride along the Bear Lake Road corridor. More info here
  • The trails are busy during the summer season. Bring plenty of water and snacks like granola bars/frozen grapes
  • Take caution and follow the posted signs while driving through the park for pullovers to take photos or to view wildlife
  • Keep some extra time for stopping for photos, sights, unexpected wildlife encounters, detours, and for unplanned delays
  • Be aware of wildlife on the road or near the road. Viewing wildlife from inside the car is the the best and safest way
  • If you experience high altitude sickness, slow down, sit for a while, drink plenty of water, and take your own time while hiking high elevation trails
  • Weak/no cell phone signals, highly recommend to have maps downloaded or printed
  • There is a lot to capture, so keep your camera ready. Make sure that camera is fully charged and also keep backup battery and memory cards
  • Best things To Do
    • Explore the Estes Park, the east side of the park. Picture and more details here 
    • Enjoy hiking to gorgeous lakes by taking well maintained scenic trails. For more details with images click on Lakes and Trails
    • Have a thrilling and memorable adventure drive on the highway to the sky, the Trail Ridge Road. Pictures and details here

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