Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

By | December 5, 2022

Although there are many ways to get to know this mountain range – the most attractive is still to visit the national park established in 1915. Busy year-round, Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its views of the mighty Rocky Mountain range and wildlife.

According to topmbadirectory, the park includes over 110 peaks over 3,000 m high and such unusual names as ‘Cirrus’, ‘Chiefs Head’, ‘Isolation’, ‘Little Matterhorn’ and ‘Mummy & Strom’. However, some of the peaks are still unnamed. 72 mountains rise even higher than 3,600m. The highest mountain in the park is “Longs Peak” at 4,345 m. But the national park offers much more than just peaks.

More than 250 square kilometers of the park are alpine tundra, a landscape above the tree line – which at 3,400 meters is far higher in North America than in Europe. Furthermore, the continental divide runs directly through the park: This means that the meltwater and rainwater on the west side of the park flows into the Pacific Ocean, but the water on the east side of the park flows into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Also worth mentioning are the numerous picturesque lakes, some of which are inaccessible and frozen almost all year round. They give the park a unique atmosphere.

Inside the park you can hear the unforgettable sound of the waterfalls, of which there are very many. They have big names like Alberta, Ouzel, Timberline & Thunder. The most famous rivers are the Colorado River, which has its source here in the park, the Cache la Poudre and the Big Thompson.

The park itself is home to Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir and Subalpine Fir. They give the park an unmistakable face. The forests are interspersed with meadows, which wear a beautiful flower dress in the short high mountain summer. A large number of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, elk, ptarmigan and birds of prey make their home here.

Rocky Mountain National Park information

Location and Size
The Rocky Mountain National Park covers a total area of ​​1,075 square kilometers and is located in northern Colorado. The highest peak is Longs Peak at 4,345 meters.

Getting there The easiest way to get
to Rocky Mountain National Park is by car. The east park entrance is only about 1.5 hours drive northwest of Denver. Denver is easily accessible by plane (Denver International Airport) both nationally and internationally. There is also good rail service within the US via the Amtrak line, which stops at Denver’s Union Station. Rental cars, motorcycles and RVs are available around Denver from all major providers.

Opening Hours and Seasons
Rocky Mountain National Park is open year-round (however, most visitor centers are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). The Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8am to 6pm (until 5pm in the winter), and the Fall River Visitor Center is open from 9am to 5pm. Located on Trail Ridge, the Alpine Visitor Center is only accessible during the summer months (late May to mid-October). It is open from 09:00 to 17:00 in the summer season and from 10:30 to 16:30 in the low season. More details can be found on the national park website .

prices Park admission is valid for all visitors for one day. If arriving by private vehicle, admission is USD 25 up to a maximum of 16 people (USD 35 for 7 days). For individuals entering the park on foot or by bicycle, the fee is USD 15 and is valid for one day (USD 20 for 7 days). Motorcyclists pay USD 25 for the day pass (USD 30 for the 7-day pass).

America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.

Advance Reservations to Visit the Park
The tried and tested reservation system for time-limited entry to the park will continue from May 27 to October 10, 2022 . One reservation allows access to the Bear Lake area and the rest of the park, and another allows access to the rest of the park independently of the Bear Lake Corridor.

The reservation window for the Bear Lake corridor runs from 5am to 6pm MT daily, while the time frame for the rest of the park runs from 9am to 3pm MT. Permits issued through the reservation system allow park visitors to enter the park within a two-hour window of availability. The reservation system will apply to all areas of the park.

Reservations are required from May 27th. They go on sale Monday, May 2nd at 10am Mountain Daylight Time via . This round of reservations will be available for entry into the park from May 27th to June 30th. The next release will be on June 1st for the month of July and any remaining days not yet booked in June.

  • On July 1st, the reservations for the month of August and the remaining days not booked for July will be available.
  • On August 1st, reservations for the month of September and the remaining unbooked days in August will be released.
  • On September 1st, the reservations for October and the remaining unbooked days in September will be available.

Initially, 30 percent of the permits are withheld. These can be purchased through at 5pm the day before . These are expected to sell out quickly and visitors are asked to plan ahead where possible.

To enter the park during the summer season, two things are required:

  • A temporary entry permit or reservation at a service such as B. a reservation for camping in the park, a reservation for horseback riding or commercial tours (service reservation)
  • And a parking pass or receipt for the entry fee for your vehicle.

Park Shuttle Service
In order to reduce car traffic in the park itself, Rocky Mountain National Park offers a free bus shuttle service in the eastern part of the park during the summer months (May to October). Both the Moraine Park Route and the Bear Lake Route start at the Park & ​​Ride lot across from Glacier Campground, opening up one of the most visited parts of the park. Both lines operate between 7am and 7pm with departures every 10-15 (Moraine Park) and every 30 minutes (Bear Lake).

In addition, the “Hiker Shuttle Route” operates, which connects the town of Estes Park with the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and the Park & ​​Ride parking lot, allowing for a completely car-free visit to the park. The buses run at different intervals from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In the Rocky Mountain National Park itself there are no hotels or motels, but campgrounds. Just outside the east entrance to the park is the small town of Estes Park, which has a wide range of accommodation. These range from simple, cheap chain hotels to B&Bs and holiday homes to historic hotels such as The Stanley, where Stephen King wrote his classic The Shining. Estes Park also offers a varied entertainment programme, which includes free concerts in the summer months, as well as numerous restaurants and bars, which also offer variety for a longer stay.
Alternatives on the west side are Loveland, about 30 minutes away, and the two university towns of Boulder and Fort Collins, each about an hour away. Denver is also an option for people who like to drive, with a driving time of around 90 minutes.

On the western side of the park is Grand Lake, a somewhat smaller town with a less extensive range of hotels. Here, however, the eponymous lake lures with a full range of water sports. There are also some interesting guest ranches on the east side of the park, which allow you to combine your “Wild West vacation” with a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park has a total of 6 campgrounds with more than 400 pitches. The Moraine Park Campground is located in an idyllic pine forest and, like Aspenglen Campground and Glacier Basin Campground, should definitely be reserved in advance, as the park is very popular in the summer months due to its proximity to Denver. There are often only a few places available according to the “first come, first serve” principle. Reservations for the three main campgrounds, Moraine Park, Aspenglen and Glacier Basin, can be made at .

The highlands of Rocky Mountain National Park are known for their variable weather. Before you travel, you should find out what weather conditions you can expect.

Winter (December – March): At higher altitudes, arctic conditions such as blizzards, strong winds and huge amounts of snow can occur. However, these parts of the park are not or hardly accessible anyway due to the Trail Ridge Road being closed from October to May. Experience has shown that lower elevations and the eastern side of the national park are somewhat milder and are accessible to visitors all year round.

Spring (April – May): Spring doesn’t arrive until the end of April at higher elevations, even occasional snowfall is still possible. Meanwhile, summer is already arriving at the lower altitudes. Wildflowers bloom here as early as late April/early May.

Summer (June – August): In the alpine tundra (approx. 3,500-3,900 m) the wildflowers do not bloom until the end of June. Afternoon, short thunderstorms and strong winds can occur, as well as sharp drops in temperature, but generally very pleasant temperatures lure. It can get quite hot, especially in the lower elevations. In terms of climate, the region is one of the desert areas, so that precipitation is usually limited to short downpours in the afternoon.

Autumn (September – November): September and October generally have dry weather with clear air and blue skies. The leaves begin to change color by mid-September, which coincides with moose mating season, making fall one of the most attractive times to visit this park.

Average temperatures in Rocky Mountain National Park in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 2 5 6 11 16 22 25 24 20 15 6 2
Min -13 -12 -9 -5 -1 3 5 5 1 -3 -8th -9

Good gear, layered clothing appropriate to the season and sound planning are essential to making a stay safe and enjoyable.

Rocky Mountain National Park offers a wide range of activities for visitors. From scenic drives and short walks to strenuous day hikes and climbing tours, the national park offers many opportunities to experience the unique nature.

VUSA TIPS: Start your visit at one of the 6 visitor centers (Alpine, Beaver Meadows, Fall River, Kawuneeche & Moraine Park Visitor Center, Sheep Lake Information Station) where you can find out about current activities and guided ranger tours can inform.

Rocky Mountain National Park ‘s road system provides access to the region’s diverse ecosystems. On the “Old Fall River Road” visitors can discover the park in much the same way as the first settlers. The popular Trail Ridge Road is America’s highest continuously paved road and one of ten America’s Byways Roads. It is the connecting road between the eastern and western parts of the park. Its highest point is near Fall River Pass at over 12,000 feet (3,700 m). Viewpoints are set up at regular intervals, with parking facilities, benches and a breathtaking panorama of the mountains and valleys.

With more than 500 kilometers of trails , the park offers numerous opportunities to hike and experience nature. Here is a small excerpt:

  • Tundra Communities Trail: Family-friendly, signposted loop trail about a mile in length with views of the park.
  • Cub Lake Trail: Popular 3.5 km long hiking trail through green forests to a small mountain lake
  • Adams Falls Trail: Short, family-friendly trail alongside Grand Lake to Adams Falls.
  • Eugenia Mine: Hike to an abandoned mine (approx. 4.5 km)
  • Onahu Creek/Green Mountain Loop: circular hiking trail through forest and meadows (approx. 13 km)

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado