Travel Tips: Rocky Mountain National Park
There’s good a reason why nature lovers and biologists like to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, it is an amazing destination to play dream, experience, and study. The majesty of the park cannot be exaggerated. Visitors are sure to experience an amazing range of natural beauty, from the wet, grassy valleys which can grow to 8,000 feet to the rugged mountaintops, Long Peak rises 14,259 feet.
The park is so large and varied and visitors should be prepared for dramatic climate changes as they trek throughout the park and change elevations. Cool, clear summer mornings usually give way to afternoon thundershowers. The winter landscape can take on a lunar form with blinding snow and ripping wind.
A great deal of Rocky Mountain National Park’s rich plant and animal life thrive around 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams that make up the wetlands. However, the drier pine forests and grassy hillsides are home to countless tiny ground-dwelling and tree-living critters.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wildlife
Credit: Environment ColoradoLarger mammals draw many visitors to the park, however don’t forget to look for some of the other 66 native mammal species in the park. Unfortunately, three native mammals are currently locally extinct, the grizzly bear, gray wolf, and bison. The lynx and wolverine are also extremely rare in the area. So there is little chance you will be able to witness these animals. In actual fact, there is little known about the population trends of most of the animals in the park, although elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep are constantly monitored be park staff and researchers.
Rocky Mountain National Park has a strong commitment to protecting its animal population, from the large elk to the small boreal toads. Visitors have great photo opportunities and can readily spot and photograph at least some of the park’s 1000 elk. To watch the rare moose, you will need to travel to the Kawaneeche Valley, there you can also watch bighorn sheep at the mineral licks of Horseshoe Park. The sheep and mountain goats are usually found at higher elevations. Although rarely seen and highly secretive, mountain lions and bobcats are actually fairly common in the park.
Bear lovers might be able to spot black bears in the park’s lower forested areas.
Snowshoe hares and ermine become white to blend in the snow during winter. Ground squirrels and Marmots hibernate through the cold months, but should be easy to observe during summer
Location of Rocky Mountain National Park:
Estes Park, Colorado
Hours of Operation:
Rocky Mountain National Park is open for visitors all year-round, 24/7.
The visitor center is open daily as weather permits and during May 23 to October 8, the opening hours are 10:30am to 4:30PM
Headquaters: Rocky Mountain National Park, 1000 Hwy 36, Estes Park, CO 80517
You can obtain 7 pass entrances from all Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance stations. For a private vehicle it costs US $20. Individuals (on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and moped) costs US $10.
You can visitor’s center, restrooms and trails at the park. There is a free shuttle bus system which runs throughout the park, and provides terrific scenic tours. Other activities, include bicycle, fishing, and horseback riding tours, these can be arranged through private contractors working in the park. It is recommended you go on a guided tour with an expert to learn more about the park.Credit: Globe Images
Camping: Rocky Mountain National Park has five drive-in campgrounds and one drive-in group camping area. Moraine Park and Glacier Basin campgrounds are on a first-come, first-serve basis and fill up fast on most summer days. Be prepared as there are no electric, water or sewer hook-ups at any campsite. If you need electricity you should consider bringing along a generator.
Best Times to Visit:
If you’re planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, the best time to visit is during late April to late September. You will be able to observe more wildlife during these times.
More Rocky Mountain National Park Travelling Tips:
To keep you out of harm’s way and safe from animals try to keep a safe and enjoyable distance from both bears and mountain lions. Always practise the following rules:
- Credit: Animal PlanetIn campgrounds and picnic areas, if a food storage locker is provided, use it.
- Make sure you avoid storing food and coolers in your vehicle.
- If you do need to store food in your vehicle, store the food in air tight containers in the trunk of the care or out of sight. Always close the windows of your vehicle completely.
- Do not store food or coolers in tents or popup campers in campgrounds or in vehicles at trailheads.
- Don’t leave food, coolers and dirty cookware unattended even for a short amount of time, if they are found unattended they are subjected to confiscation by park rangers.
- In the backcountry, dispose of any garbage in bear resistant dumping containers and trash cans store food, scented items, and garbage in commercially available bear resistant portable canisters or carefully hang the food 10 feet up and 4 feet out from a tree trunk.
- Pack away all garbage, never leave any garbage lying around.
- Even if it is something important, never try to retrieve anything from a bear. They are dangerous and extremely powerful.
- Report all bear incidents to a park ranger.
- Do not leave pets or pet food unattended, especially at dusk or dawn.
- Pets are permitted in Rocky Mountain National Park but not on the trails or in the backcountry and must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets can attract animals into developed areas, so always be careful.
- Avoid walking alone, anytime. Always stick in a group.
- Watch children closely, do not let them go out of your sight and never let them run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Talk to children and educate them about lions and bears and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
Rocky Mountain National Park Map
Rocky Mountain National Park, 1000 U.S. 36, Estes Park, CO 80517, USA