Rocky Mountain National Park lies approximately 36 miles North of Winter Park, just beyond the picturesque town of Grand Lake.
Encompassing 415 square miles of stunning wilderness and over 300 miles of hiking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-do for most people visiting the area. Trail Ridge Road, hailed as 'The Highest Paved Road In America' crests at over 12,000 ft, opens from Memorial Weekend until mid October and guides more than 3,000,000 visitors through the park each year.
An abundance of wildlife has set up home in Rocky Mountain National Park and elk, moose & Bighorn sheep sightings are common. Mountain lions, bobcats and lynx also roam the territory but are rarely seen. Black bears thrive in the lower woodlands and therefore strict trash rules are enforced to deter a human/bear problem. Sharper eyes will pick out marmots, ground squirrels, ptarmigan and pikas; and bird lovers will be spoiled for choice with the enormous variety of species everywhere they look.
There are so many trails in RMNP it's hard to narrow the selection down to just a few, but if we had to pick our top three trails, we'd go with:
Bridal Veil Falls
An easy going 6.4 mile hike that begins at the historic McGraw Ranch and winds it's way along a trickling stream and through healthy aspen glades. Kids will love scrambling up the steep rock steps just before reaching the big falls themselves.
Bear Lake Loop
This 0.6 mile hike is one of the park's most popular trails thanks to the postcard perfect views of the surrounding peaks and sparkling clear water water of the lake itself. There are many benches positioned around the lake for resting stops and a ranger station and convenient shuttle stop services the area at the end of Bear Lake Road.
Flattop Mountain ToHallett Peak
This 10 mile hike follows a strenuous trail that gains 3,238 ft during it's ascent but offers incredible rewards at the top. Hike Flattop mountain and then traverse the extra 0.6 miles to Hallett Peak for breathtaking views in every direction. From the summit you will be able to take in views of Longs Peak & surrounding mountain ranges, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby. As with all high elevation hikes, exposure to the elements is inevitable, so check the weather forecast for thunderstorms, set out for the hike early in the day and make sure your back pack has all the essentials plus some extra layers, just in case.
Times & Entrance Fees
Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24 hours a day all year round. Trail Ridge Road is closed during the Winter months but opens on Memorial Weekend and stays open until mid-October (when the snow begins to fly).
Daily entrance fees:
$20 per automobile (valid for 7 consecutive days
$10 per pedestrian, bicycles, motorbike or moped (valid for 7 consecutive days)
For further information, visit Rocky Mountain National Park.