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Rocky Mountain National Park

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 6 27

Mountain Fun for Everyone

Located outside of beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, this national park is a mountain paradise.  Hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world come every year to visit alpine lakes, observe rare wildlife, and climb peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level.  Rocky Mountain National Park, established in 1920, offers car and backcountry camping, hundreds of miles of hikes, and gorgeous vistas visible from easily accessible roads.  Truly, this gem of a national park offers something for everyone. 

Popular Destinations

Although it contains over 350 miles of trails and 150 lakes, only a few spots bear the burden of heavy tourist traffic.  Their popularity is certainly warranted as these vacation destinations are among the most beautiful sights in the United States.  Probably the most visited area in the park is Bear Lake.  The lake has become so popular that the National Park Service has set up a busing system just to cart people to the lake.   The bus drops tourists off just a few short feet away from this majestic mountain lake.  At Bear Lake, 12,000 foot Hallet Peak seemingly rises out of the middle of no where and provides for breathtaking photo opportunities. 

Rocky Mountain Waterfalls
For the tourists who do not want to get out of their car, Trail Ridge Road is the place to go.  This road rises over 12,000 feet above sea level and offers wide open views of the Mummy Range and Longs Peak.  This road was originally constructed in the 1920s but has undergone many changes in recent years to accommodate the heavy car traffic it sees every summer.

Hikers both young and old will find a paradise in Rocky Mountain National Park as trails range from an easy stroll to a technical climb.  One of the easiest and most often made hikes is to Alberta Falls just a short hike away from Bear Lake.  Alberta Falls can be seen by hiking less than a mile and is best seen in the springtime when winter runoff is at its peak.  Of interest to more seasoned hikers is the 14,255 foot behemoth Longs Peak.  While the hike is not technical, it is only accessible to hikers for a few months every year.  The top of this mountain sees tens of thousands of hikers every year but turns away a great deal of peak baggers who cannot handle the fourteen total mile hike and the high elevations.  Hiking up Longs Peak is not for the faint of heart or unfit as it has claimed many lives since it rise in popularity in the 1920s.

How to Get Away From the Tourists

As popular as this Rocky Mountain National Park is, it can be relatively easy to get away from the crowds in the middle of the summer.   To do this, stay away from the places mentioned above or hike deep into the backcountry.  If you are on the east side of the park, make a journey into the Wild Basin area.  It is only accessible by narrow dirt roads but many great hikes originate from this more out of the way area.  If you are looking for a shorter hike, take a quick trip to the Calypso Cascades.  If you want something that will take the better park of the day, you can hike almost seven miles one way to Thunder Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in the park. 

Wild Basin will still get a good amount of visitors since it is closest to the city centers like Fort Collins and Boulder that are easily accessible from the east.  If you really want to get away from the crowds, travel to the west side of the park.  Again, hiking trails abound and majestic vistas are all around.  For the peak baggers, try out a peak in the Never Summer Range, while the novices can take a hike to Granite Falls. 


Lake Nanita

Regardless of where you go in Rocky Mountain National Park, you will find something picturesque.  You will find diverse ecosystems, rugged terrain, and gushing rivers.  There is something for everyone in this historic national park.  Before you go, prioritize what you want to see, but also know your limits and be prepared for weather of all conditions.  If you take the proper preparations and precautions, you will not soon forget your trip to this beautiful national park. 

Read these other essential articles for your Colorado Vacation:

Calypso Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

on the Wild Basin Trail

Rocky Mountain Waterfalls
Credit: Garrett Adrian Photo

Lake Nanita

One of the most breathtaking and remote lakes in the park

Lake Nanita
Credit: Garrett Adrian Photo


Mar 31, 2011 4:17am
I lived up in Georgetown Colorado for two years and then in Denver. I'm in Northern New England now but I miss the rockies. Great articles Thanks for the memories.Thumbs u from me!!
Mar 31, 2011 9:11am
Thanks dreamaker! I've lived in Iowa for the past two years and will be going back to the mountains of Colorado this summer. I can't wait!
Mar 31, 2011 5:24am
Such a nice and beautiful place.
Mar 31, 2011 9:14am
Thanks! I love RMNP.
Mar 31, 2011 8:47am
Congrats on being featured! You bring Colorado alive in this article.
Mar 31, 2011 9:13am
Thanks westernmom. It's one of my favorite places. I'm glad to know I brought it "alive" for you!
Mar 31, 2011 9:23am
It would be nice to see the flipside of the Canadian Rockies. Good read.
Mar 31, 2011 10:36am
Congratulations on your featured article! Great information and beautiful pictures!
Mar 31, 2011 8:58pm
nice pictures
Apr 1, 2011 11:04am
Fabulous article about my state - I still haven't been to the park!Beautiful photos. Thumbs up from me, too.
Apr 1, 2011 11:19am
Thanks footloose! Make sure you visit sometime this summer (as long as you live close). And thanks for the kudos on the photos. It is one of my favorite places to take pictures.
Apr 3, 2011 1:40am
This park is a great place to visit. I live in Colorado and have been there several times at different times of the year. My favorite time is May/June when the spring water runoff is at it's peak.
Apr 4, 2011 11:34am
May/June is a great time to visit. There are so many beautiful waters that are going full-force at that time. That time of year also has less visitors (relatively at least) that July and August. I usually go to the park in July and August to do a lot of backpacking. I can't wait to go back!
Apr 12, 2011 1:19pm
Great article. We live not far away and love going there. Make sure you take a sweater even in the middle of summer as it can be cold up there even if its 100 in Denver!
Apr 15, 2011 8:25am
Yeah! "Flatlanders" just don't seem to understand that it can potentially get below freezing in the middle of the summer!
Apr 15, 2011 8:19am
Nice looking article and great information, the mountains are so cool.
Apr 15, 2011 8:26am
Thanks for the kudos. Rocky Mountains and indeed quite cool!
Apr 16, 2011 1:52pm
I grew up in Colorado. Estees Park is one of my favorite towns. Love it there. Nicely written article. Congrats on feature status.
Apr 17, 2011 3:46pm
Thank weianow. Estes Park is a great little mountain town. It seems like there is always something going on. I can't wait to make it back up there this summer.
Apr 19, 2011 6:00pm
I haven't visited Colorado in more than a decade. Definitely need to put it on the bucket list soon! Great article. Congrats on your feature - well deserved.
Apr 20, 2011 1:35am
Thanks! I don't think Colorado residents know how good they've got it. I hope you make it out in the coming years!
Apr 19, 2011 6:30pm
Colorado is SUCH a beautiful state- so great for so many things outdoors. Those are some beautiful places you picked, and some great pictures! Good article. :)
Apr 20, 2011 1:36am
Thanks SA. I grew up there and loved it. I am a mountain man at heart! Oh yeah, and I also love photography. Thanks for the props.
Apr 21, 2011 1:16pm
Gorgeous pictures and great information. I want to take my family there some day.
Apr 21, 2011 1:16pm
Gorgeous pictures and great information. I want to take my family there some day.
Apr 21, 2011 1:31pm
Thanks! It is such a beautiful place. With Estes Park right there, RMNP has something for everyone.
May 13, 2013 4:58pm
Wonderful article and breathtaking pictures!
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