Rocky Mountain National Park protects 265,770 acres of Colorado's impressive Front Range, which rises abruptly from the relatively flat area around Denver and eastern Colorado. Inside the park, 60 peaks soar to 12,000 feet or higher, with Longs Peak being the tallest at 14,259 feet. The Continental Divide runs through the park, and about one-fourth of the park resides above the tree line, where snow fields linger into the late summer and glaciers cover the cliffs. Nearly 400 miles of hiking trails wind through Rocky Mountain National Park's various ecosystems while scenic viewpoints offer those driving through a chance to take in the majestic view of the mountains.
Consider booking a vacation rental in the nearby town of Estes Park, Granby, or Grand Lake which all give you a perfect launch point to take pleasure in the scenes and activities that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.
Bag a 14er
The Front Range's so-called 14-ers—mountains topping 14,000 feet in elevation—attract thousands of stalwart hikers each year. Only one stands inside Rocky Mountain National Park: Longs Peak, which is visible from many spots inside the park. If it tantalizes you, you will be happy to know its apex is a fairly attainable goal for hikers in good shape and with a full day to dedicate. Though the way up is often blocked by snow and ice until late in the summer, if you plan accordingly, you can use the non-technical Keyhole Route to get to the top. Just be prepared: it is an eight-mile one-way climb with a gain of 4,850 feet of elevation to the summit.
Take in the Scenery with a Drive through the Park
The easiest and most popular way to see Rocky Mountain National Park is by driving via the Trail Ridge Road, which lies on U.S. Highway 34—the road you will likely take from your vacation rental. The route will give you a great overview of the national park, letting you experience the breathtaking sights of subalpine meadows, tundra, stunning mountain vistas, glaciers, and hopefully some wildlife endemic in the area like bighorn sheep, marmots, deer, moose and elk. Two other options for scenic drives include the lesser traveled Fall River Road and Bear Lake Road. Be sure to check on road conditions ahead of time, as these roads are closed in winter and sometimes into summer.
Try a New Extreme Sport
Rocky Mountain National Park is an adventurer's paradise. Opportunities for extreme sports like mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, various types of skiing and snowshoeing are popular with the outdoorsy crowd. Outfitters in nearby Estes Park offer rentals and guided trips if you are not that experienced. If you do plan on doing anything in the backcountry, be sure to get a permit from a ranger station.
If you truly want to experience the Rocky Mountain National Park, there is no better way to do it than to camp inside the park itself. Rocky Mountain offers camping opportunities at its designated campgrounds. Get your camping gear ready and reserve a spot (plan way ahead – spots fill up quick) at the Glacier Basin, Moraine Park and the Aspenglen.
There are a variety of ways for one to enjoy the grandeur of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Whether you are into nature tripping or into extreme sports, the Rockies can provide you with innumerable adventure opportunities and experiences.
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