Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 412 square miles of spectacular mountain landscapes create a unique opportunity for all visitors. Drive Trail Ridge Road to experience the highest continuously paved road in the US reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet with breath taking views (seasonal). Or try Old Fall River Road to experience the National Park as early visitors did through a scenic canyon.
Get out of the car and experience Rocky Mountain National Park by foot. With over 355 miles of hiking trails, hikers can experience a wide range of hiking experiences within Rocky Mountain National Park. Trails range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs. Consult with a park ranger for recommendations based on fitness levels and desired scenery (ie. forested areas, summiting a peak, wildlife viewing, waterfalls, lakes or glaciers). A great list of recommended hikes is available at the Rocky Mountain National Park website at www.nps.gov/romo. Even in winter, a few trails may remain accessible without skis or snowshoes, including The Pool, Cub Lake, Gem Lake and Deer Mountain (check with a ranger for current snow conditions).
Horseback riding is another great way to experience Rocky Mountain National Park (seasonal). There are two stables located within the park: Glacier creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. Private horses are also allowed on many trails within the park. Choose from a 1-hour ride, or try an all day adventure! Other stables in Estes Park also provide rides into the park.
Of course, wildlife viewing is probably the most popular activity in Rocky Mountain National Park. With more than 3,000 elk, almost 800 bighorn sheep, mule dear and a few moose, wildlife viewing is always an adventure. The elk rut (mating season) occurs in late September and October. Bighorn sheep are commonly seen at Sheep Lakes from May through mid-August. Moose can be seen in the Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of the park. And marmots & pikas can be found in the alpine tundra along Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road. Summer brings lots of butterflies throughout the park.
In the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular activities. The east side of the park receives limited snow in fall and early winter. As a result, snow coverage is often intermittent below 9500 feet, resulting in challenging ski conditions. Always check with a park ranger about current ski or snowshoe conditions. A winter play area is located in Hidden Valley where sledding is popular.
For more information on Rocky Mountain National Park, visit the official park website at http://www.nps.gov/romo. The entrance fee is $20 per vehicle and is valid for 7 consecutive days or you can purchase an annual pass for $40. Alternately, individuals 62 years or older can purchase an America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass for only $10 (a lifetime pass).