The Rocky Mountain National Park is among the most popular and most visited national parks in the United States. It is located in the state of Colorado in the Front Range region. The borders of RMNP touch three counties, Larimer, Grand, and Boulder. The Roosevelt, Routt and Arapaho National Forests surround the park. The Continental Divide passes roughly straight through the heart of the park, resulting in two terrains that have drastically varied landscapes. On the eastern side lies the dry and heavily glaciated section, while a wetter and wooded area can be found on the western side. Both sections of the park present visitors with great high altitude alpine hiking spots, rock climbing, and backpacking opportunities, in addition to abundant prospects of wildlife sightings. The Rocky Mountain National park is home to Longs Peak – one of state’s 54 “Fourteeners”, the peaks that stand above 14,000 feet – nicknamed the “Monarch of the Front Range”.
If you are looking for an adventure, the Rocky Mountain National has plenty to offer. Fasten your shoelaces and prepare to traverse through the massive landscape of the RMNP. The windswept alpine tundra is home to extensive flora and fauna, with the carved mountaintops silhouetting with the blue sky in the backdrop, serving as a melodramatic aide-mémoire of the ice age. Explore the vast rift of the Continental Divide and hear the grunts of bugling elks or stumble upon freshly dropped bear scat underneath your shoes. The park has a lot to offer and here are few of the activities and attractions for you in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
If you’re not one into serious hiking and trekking, the Rocky Mountain National Park is still a great place to visit. One of the best and easiest ways to get a wonderful experience of the place is to hop on a jeep and go on a guided tour through the park with Green Jeep Tours. On these tours, you will get to take in a lot of the spectacular scenery the park has to offer while being led by a knowledgeable friendly guide. The great thing about jeeps is that they’re small, so the group is small and the tour is personal, but they also get to places where a big packed bus has no chance of venturing. Depending on your appetite for adventure, you can choose from several tours where the bumpiness of the ride (and the wilderness of the surroundings) ranges from mild to high. The jeeps are open-air, so the fresh breeze is your A/C and there’s nothing obstructing your view – and you always have a good chance of spotting some local wildlife.
The most popular attraction in the park is the Longs Peak which sits at an elevation of 14,259 ft above sea level. During the summer season, it is packed with hikers and trekkers aiming to summit this peak. The ascent is not a light climb and should never be attempted underprepared. Once you complete the first 6 miles to the Boulder Field, the previously moderate trail will turn into a steep path leading to the Keyhole Route to the top. This is the easiest among all of the routes. The final stretch can put even skilled hikers to a test, but once you reach the top, the view alone makes it worth the climb. The snowcapped mountaintops that stretch across the curved horizon offer an incredible view. The average time to complete this round trip is usually between 10 to 15 hours, where you are supposed to reach the top by noon to avoid getting caught in lightning storms.
If you want to go for a short hike, you can go for the Chasm Lake by heading south just above the tree line. This wonderful lake sits underneath the Diamond of the Longs Peak’s jagged face. Camping at the campgrounds of Longs Peak can also be a wonderful experience, especially between the months of July and October.
Twin Sisters Peak
The hike towards the Twin Sisters Peak can serve as a warm-up for the Longs Peak trek with its up and down track. The unparalleled view offered by the Twin Sisters Peak, sitting at 11,428 ft is unbelievable. The route to the summit is arduous as it gains an elevation of 2300ft in less than 4 miles. The landscape of the peak is a unique blend of oddly deformed rocks with patches of wildflowers filling all of the spaces.
It is among the easier treks in the park, as the 1.5-mile track gains an elevation of a 1000ft to reach the Lily Mountain top. Once you reach it, you get a panoramic view of Mummy Range, Longs Peak, Estes Cones, Continental Divide and the remarkable scenery of the park.
Hiking and Trekking
Majority of people who visit the park, never get off the road or venture away from the main trails, and it is a damn shame. This means that for those who do, they will find a desolate backcountry paradise where you can experience the serene scenery, challenging hiking and trekking opportunities and serious mountain ascents. However, this venture will require a permit, that can be acquired from the Wilderness Offices.
There are designated spots all over the park in more than a hundred locations where you can camp. This presents an excellent opportunity for those who want to spend time away from the city. You can stay at one site, or move from one site to another, depending on your trip plan. If you want to venture into the trail-less backcountry, you should try going to the park’s Technical Orienteering Cross Country Zones. Keep in mind that such an adventure requires a permit and a bear bin, as well as other proper camping gear like a map, tent, food supply, GPS, water filtration, good clothing, etc.
Tips for Safety During Hiking
- The best time to go on these hikes is from the middle of June to the middle of October.
- Start as early as possible, as this increases the prospects of wildlife sightseeing as well as to be ahead of the summer afternoon storms.
- Take the altitude seriously and bring necessary clothing and medicine with you.
- The park has a number of sites for camping in locations across the area with some being in the backcountry. If you truly want to experience the park, you should try one of such campsites.
Trail Ridge Road
There is also the option of taking an adventurous Trail Ridge Road ride across the 48-mile-long stretch from Estes Park to the Grand Lake. It is only open to the public in the summertime and is usually very busy. Despite all that, the ride is worth it whether you are driving a truck, an RV or a bike. There is an 11-mile section of the ridge road that sits above the tree line. It also offers remarkable prospects of wildlife sighting.