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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Overview

Rocky Mountain National Park's 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Landscapes on either side of the Continental Divide feature alpine lakes, forested valleys and a wide range of plants and animals. Iconic summer thunderstorms and persistent winter winds are among the forces that continue to shape this majestic landscape. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road, which crests over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds, along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky Mountain is on top!

To learn more about Rocky Mountain National Park, visit www.nps.gov.

Local Info

Visitor Centers:
Opening and closing dates and hours vary seasonally for visitor centers at Rocky Mountain. Check the park's website for current operating hours.
  • Alpine Visitor Center: Hours vary by season. Open year round.
  • Beaver Meadows Visitor Center: 8 am to 4:30 pm. Open year round (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).
  • Fall River Visitor Center: 9 am to 5 pm through October 12. Winter hours and days vary.
  • Kawuneeche Visitor Center: 8 am to 4:30 pm. Open year round (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).
  • Moraine Park Discovery Center: 9 am to 4:30 pm through October 12.

Visiting Tips

Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting. Summer and fall are the busiest seasons in the park. Parking lots can be full and roads congested. Arriving early or coming into the park in the late afternoon can help.

Due to the high elevations and exposure, park roads are subject to rapid weather changes and strong winds. Road conditions in and around the park can change quickly, particularly in the spring and fall, and some roads in the park are closed seasonally. Information on current road closures and conditions can be found here.

Fees & Passes:
To learn more about park fees, click here.
  • Purchase an annual pass for all national parks sites, $80
  • Camping & Lodging

    If you are planning to camp overnight in the park, you must be in one of the designated campgrounds or backcountry campsites. Camping reservations are strongly recommended during the summer and fall. Call 1-877-444-6777 or reserve online at: reserveamerica.com or recreation.gov.

    • Aspenglen Campground: Open May 26 through September 26
    • Glacier Basin Campground: Group sites are also available.
    • Longs Peak Campground: Seasonal closures vary by year.
    • Moraine Park Campground: Open year round.
    • Timber Creek Campground: Seasonal closures vary by year.

    Additionally, there are a wide range of backcountry camping experiences available in Rocky Mountain. Overnight travel in the backcountry requires a permit which is available at two backcountry offices. These offices are open seven days a week, seasonal hours vary. Call 970-586-1242 or visit www.nps.gov for more information regarding backcountry camping in the park.

    Food & Drink

    The Trail Ridge Store, which includes a café and coffee bar and is adjacent to the Alpine Visitor Center, is the one restaurant inside the park and is open from approximately late May through early October. There are no grocery stores in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy sells very limited food items in the park visitor centers and bottled water at Bear Lake and Park & Ride during summer and fall.

    Restaurants and grocery stores can be found in the local communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park. If you prefer to bring your own food into the park, there are several picnic sites that provide tables and, sometimes, restrooms and fire grates.

    Outfitters, Tours, & Shuttles

    Guided Tours:
    Rocky Mountain National Park offers a variety of ranger-led programs that vary by season. All programs, unless otherwise specified, are free and open to the public. To learn more about these ranger-led programs and to see the current events calendar, click here.

    Free Shuttles:
    The park's free shuttle buses operate late spring, summer, and early fall. The buses do not run in late fall, winter, or early spring.
    • Moraine Park Route: Runs between Park & Ride and Fern Lake Bus Stop and leaves every 30 minutes from 7 am to 7 pm.
    • Bear Lake Route: Runs between Park & Ride and Bear Lake and leaves every 10-15 minutes from 7 am to 7 pm.
    • Hiker Shuttle Route: Makes stops at the Estes Park Visitor Center, the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, and Park & Ride. The first bus leaves the Estes Park Visitor Center at 7:30 am and last bus leaves Park & Ride at 8:00 pm.

    REI Adventures:
    REI offers over 30 national park trips led by expert guides capable of taking you off the beaten path to discover hidden gems that many visitors never see.

    Check out REI Adventures' national park offerings here.

    Other Activities

    Those looking for other ways to explore Rocky Mountain National Park will not be disappointed by the variety that the park offers. Road biking, rock climbing, bouldering, fishing, horseback riding, backcountry camping, and wildlife viewing are among the many activities that the park affords in the summer. In the winter, you can continue your exploration by snowshoeing or cross country skiing or by sledding at Hidden Valley. Visit Rocky Mountain's website for more information on the park's other activities.

    Maps & Guidebooks

    To download a variety of free brochures to help plan your visit, click here.

    Gems in Rocky Mountain National Park - 23

    Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Gems

    gem Favorite Representing the REI NP Centennial backpack at Dream Lake, looking towards Flattop Mountain (right) and Hallett Peak (left).

    Dream Lake

    (137) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Alberta Falls

    Alberta Falls

    (102) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Bear Lake.

    Bear Lake

    (112) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Looking south across Gem Lake on a calm spring morning

    Gem Lake

    (73) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite View towards Never Summer Mountains, Rocky Mountain NP

    Trail Ridge Road Summit

    (57) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite The Loch, Rocky Mountain NP CO

    The Loch

    (43) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite The edge of Chasm Lake

    Chasm Lake and The Diamond

    (36) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite Ouzel Falls, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado with permission from Richard Ryer

    Ouzel Falls

    (41) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite View of Longs Peak, looking west from Lily Lake. Lily Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park, Colorado.

    Lily Lake

    (31) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite View of Chasm Falls

    Chasm Falls and Old Fall River Road

    (30) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite The Roaring River.

    Alluvial Fan

    (32) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Start of East Inlet Trail RMNP 3/16.

    Adams Falls

    (20) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite Bighorn sheep ram

    Bighorn Sheep Viewing - Sheep Lakes

    (16) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Tundra Communities Trail.

    Tundra Communities Trail (aka Toll Memorial Trail)

    (17) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Cub lake

    Cub Lake

    (20) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite The sheer rock walls of the Continental Divide loom majestically over open meadows and early summer snow.

    East Inlet Vista

    (3) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite Sky Pond early spring

    Sky Pond

    (1) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite An elk grazing near Coyote Valley Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

    Coyote Valley

    (13) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite West Creek Falls

    West Creek Falls

    (8) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Beaver Meadows

    Astronomy in the Park

    (4) Estes Park, CO
    gem Favorite Estes Park

    Holzwarth Historic Site

    (9) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite Colorado River, Lulu City remains. with permission from Ed Ogle

    Lulu City

    (10) Grand Lake, CO
    gem Favorite Beaver!

    Beaver Viewing at the Beaver Boardwalk

    (9) Estes Park, CO

    Recommended Routes in Rocky Mountain National Park - 27

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    Favorite Big views from the Lookout
    Intermediate/Difficult

    Lookout Peak Trail

    4.9 mi 7.8 km 1,948' Up 593.61 m Up 1,947' Down 593.37 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite Sunrise summit of Longs Peak looking East. AMAZING!
    Difficult

    Longs Peak - Keyhole Route

    14.0 mi 22.5 km 5,241' Up 1597.49 m Up 5,231' Down 1594.51 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite The Slopes of Mt. Ida with permission from Ed Ogle
    Intermediate/Difficult

    Timber Lake Trail

    9.3 mi 14.9 km 2,012' Up 613.19 m Up 2,012' Down 613.11 m Down

    Grand Lake, CO
    Favorite Mt. Meeker at Dawn, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado with permission from Richard Ryer
    Difficult

    Chasm Lake

    8.2 mi 13.3 km 2,766' Up 843.04 m Up 2,766' Down 843 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite Ute Trail on Trail Ridge, Rocky Mountain NP CO
    Intermediate

    Upper Ute Trail Out-and-Back

    3.9 mi 6.3 km 884' Up 269.58 m Up 891' Down 271.45 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite Milky Way from the park
    Intermediate/Difficult

    Deer Mountain Loop

    10.5 mi 16.9 km 1,698' Up 517.54 m Up 1,698' Down 517.52 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite Mt. Meeker at Dawn, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado with permission from Richard Ryer
    Difficult

    Longs Peak Valley Loop

    23.2 mi 37.3 km 5,129' Up 1563.24 m Up 5,150' Down 1569.7 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite It feels like there are more than 3 defined waterfalls along this trail.
    Intermediate

    Ouzel Falls & Back

    5.3 mi 8.5 km 921' Up 280.83 m Up 921' Down 280.77 m Down

    Estes Park, CO
    Favorite Lion Lake with Summer Wildflowers mid-July
    Difficult

    Mt. Alice via Hourglass Ridge

    9.2 mi 14.8 km 3,387' Up 1032.23 m Up 3,395' Down 1034.73 m Down

    Grand Lake, CO

    Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

    • 505 Miles 812 Kilometers of Trail
    • 27 Recommended Routes
    • 23 Gems Gems
    • 33 Easy Trails Easy Trails
    • 109 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
    • 56 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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    Areas Within Rocky Mountain National Park

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    Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park - 171

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    1.7 mi 2.8 km #1Allenspark Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    1.7 mi 2.8 km #2Dark Mountain Trail
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO
    3.2 mi 5.2 km #3Bluebird Lake Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Grand Lake, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Grand Lake, CO 15 
    5.3 mi 8.6 km #4Finch Lake - Pear Lake Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO 11 
    2.3 mi 3.7 km #5Finch Lake Cutoff
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    2.2 mi 3.5 km #6Lion Lake Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Grand Lake, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Grand Lake, CO
    2.2 mi 3.6 km #7Meaker Park Sandbeach Cutoff
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO
    1.4 mi 2.2 km #8North St. Vrain Fire Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Estes Park, CO
    2.0 mi 3.2 km #9South Lateral Moraine Trail
    Easy
    Estes Park, CO
    Easy
    Estes Park, CO
    2.1 mi 3.3 km #10Utility Area Access Trail
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO
    Intermediate
    Estes Park, CO

    Photos of Rocky Mountain National Park - 733

    Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Photos

    Milky Way from the park
    Jan 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
    The edge of Chasm Lake
    Jan 26, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
    Mills Lake early spring sunset
    Jan 30, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
    Tilted ice, rosy sunrise
    Feb 9, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
    The view to Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain from Dream Lake.
    Dec 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
    Representing the REI NP Centennial backpack at Dream Lake, looking towards Flattop Mountain (right) and Hallett Peak (left).
    May 20, 2016 near Estes Park, CO
    Sunrise summit of Longs Peak looking East. AMAZING!
    Sep 26, 2017 near Grand Lake, CO
    Lion Lake with Summer Wildflowers mid-July
    Jul 11, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO