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Friday, September 22, 2023

10 Best Sites in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is popularly known for its wilderness and majestic scenery. Located in the United States, the national park is renowned for its adventurous nature.

The Rocky Mountain National Park spans over 3,000 miles, showcasing a stunning array of towering mountain peaks. It reaches from northern Canada to New Mexico. It is a mediator of the alpine ecosystem, supporting sub-alpine and montane region.

On one side, lies the Alpine region in the south-west, Estes Park, and the Fall River area in the north-east of the National Park. In the central-eastern region, you can find the Bear Southeast Wild Basin area in the South-east region of the park.

1. What is Exquisite about Rocky Mountain National Park? 

Located in central Colorado, the continental divide runs over the Rocky Mountain National Park. It covers almost 265,461 acres of the area, from Estes Park on the East to Grand Lakes on the West.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is renowned for its captive nature. From evergreen forests to alpine glaciers in the peak mountains, the beauty of the national park lies in its depth into the wilderness. Rocky Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination to explore with your squad.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

You can explore magnificent, picturesque scenery in every direction, thanks to its diversity of nature. You can start your journey in Rocky Mountain National Parks from the Grand Lake area in the west, which is known as the Western Gateway.

2. Sites to Explore

2.1 Trail Ridge Road 

Trail Ridge Road holds the variance of being the highest paved road within the entire U.S. National Park System. The highest continuously paved highway runs from  Estes Valley in the east to the Grand Lakes in the west.

Not only that, the roads will take you up into the alpine tundra above the treeline. It also surpasses the continental divide at the Milner Pass.

While driving on the Alpine Ridge Road, there are beautiful overlooks of alpine rivers and valleys along the drive. There are also other nice visiting points including Gore Range Overlook, Tundra Communities Trail, Lava Cliffs, Forest Canyon Overlook, Rainbow Curve, and many parkes. The National Park also has the facility of parking, so that you can stay a little longer in the beautiful spot.


2.2 Bear Lake Road – Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake is one of the shortest and easiest hiking trails in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a 0.7-mile loop with about 50 feet of elevation gain.

You can take a short hike around the amazing lake, which gives a stunning view of Halit Point from the east shore. There are other mighty peaks and Longs Peak next to Halit Point which can be seen while hiking. Along Bear Lake lies Sprague Lake, which is another beautiful place to visit.

These places are popular destinations for photographers to capture the dawn beauty of the lakes and peaks. In addition to its natural beauty, the trail offers various activities such as snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding during the winter.


2.3 Alberta Fall River Road 

While traveling Bear Lake Road, you can visit Alberta Fall River which is one of the beautiful falls of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 1.7 miles round trip with 200 feet of elevation gain.

It is formed due to glaciers creek as it makes its way down the high mountain. The fast-flowing cascades drop about 25 feet. 

The Alberta Fall is surrounded by granite rocks and the nearby flora makes it beautiful, especially in the spring and autumn. The waterfall can be accessed year-round, and great to enjoy the spray on a hot day.


2.4 Estes Park – Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is located near the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Estes Valley is spread over a little mountain town where lodging options are available for visitors.

Estes Valley is known for outdoor activities, landscaped wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. 

It also has a tramway that sails to the summit. From here, the extended beauty of the Estes Valley over 100 miles over the snow-capped front range can be seen.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Image by Mickey Estes from Pixabay

2.5 Old Fall River Road – Rocky Mountain National Park

Old Fall River Road is a one-way uphill gravel road that will take you up to the Alpine Visitor Centre. It is the oldest rugged gravel road, which used to be a Native American Hunting Trail.

It is another 11-mile route that passes over the Continental Divide. Like Trail Ridge Road, the Old Fall River Road is a connecting road between Estes Park on the east and Grand Lakes on the west.

While hiking on the Old Fall River Road, you can view alluvial fans and Chasm Falls along the road. The road travels through the wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Due to this, the road is strictly seasonal, passable to vehicles only in the summer. It remains closed during the winter and rainy seasons.

2.6 Emerald Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park

Emerald Lake is another beautiful place located in the Bear Lake region of itsy Mountain National Park. With it’s moderate hiking trails, it is accessible to people of all ages.

From Dream Lake, there are another six to ten miles around the lake and further up into the Tyndall Gorge to reach an elevation of 10,000 feet in Emerald Lake. 

On the opposite side of Emerald Lake, there is a large waterfall coming down from the Tyndall glaciers. Emerald Lake is the final destination of the hike, right up against Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.

2.7 Alpine Visitor’s Centre –Rocky Mountain National Park

Alpine Visitor Centre is the highest point on Trail Ridge Road. It is located at an elevation of 11,796 feet in the Rocky Mountain National Park. You can access the Alpine Visitor Centre through the widely traveled Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Image by kerplode from Pixabay

In the center, a restroom and shops are available for visitors. The National Park Service conducts arts and exhibition programs to deliver information about the geology, wildlife, and history of the park through knowledgeable guides.

The U.S. National Park System Visitor Centre offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Fall River Valley, Mummy Range, Never Summer, Trail Ridge to the east, and Medicine Bow range to the west and north. Visitors are allowed to experience the alpine tundra and its unique, closed ecosystem.

For more adventure, hiking and biking trails through nearby forests are led by Rangers of Rocky Mountain National Park.

2.8 Glacier Gorge Trail Head – Rocky Mountain National Park

Glacier Gorge Trail-head is the junction of a multitude of hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. Along with Bear Lake, the Glaciers Gorge Trail-head stretched over 4 miles, covering the most stunning views. 


While hiking via the Glaciers Gorge Trail-head, you will pass through seven lakes, four waterfalls, and six peaks. This includes Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Black Lake, Alberta Falls, Sky Pond, McHenry’s Peak, and other unnamed sites.

2.9 Longs Peak – Rocky Mountain National Park

Long Peak is the iconic 14,000-foot mountain in the northern front of Rocky Mountain National Park. The keyhole route is the easiest way to the summit, which is around 14.8 miles round trip. Hiking in Longs Peak may take huge days with a lot of exposure to changing weather, and high altitude. 

Rocky Mountain National Park
Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

It is known as the most difficult as well as dangerous hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Therefore, it is not a hike to be taken lightly unless one has experience in the high alpine back-country. It is comfortable hiking 15 miles per day. Otherwise, a backpacking trip to camp overnight in a boulder field is another good option.

2.10 Kawuneeche Valley –Rocky Mountain National Park

Kawuneeche Valley is located on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is characterized by marshy valleys abundant with green meadows, and flora and fauna, perfect for wildlife watching.

Trail Ridge Road ends in Kawuneeche Valley, which is known for the end of the land and the beginning of the river. The Colorado River begins in Kawuneeche Valley and travels down to the Gulf of California.

The river trail in Colorado is often sheltered by herds of bighorn sheep, and nearby you can see more animals, including wolf packs, elk, bobcats, cougars, Canada lynx, foxes, moose, and mule deer.

3. Best Time to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

If you are looking to visit a specific part of Rocky Mountain National Park, then you should visit during its best season. As some areas may remain closed due to wildfire or snow that hasn’t melted.

Also during the peak season, Rocky Mountain National Park requires an entrance fee for timed entry reservations and a valid park entrance pass to enter the park during certain hours.

3.1 Summer 

For those planning a visit, Summer is the most recommended time to explore Rocky Mountain National Park. The mild temperatures and long warm days welcome the large number of tourists visiting the National Park.

The period from May to October being particularly favorable for tourism for exploring summer is perfect for exploring majestic peaks, glimmering alpine lakes, and wildlife. The snow-free Trail Ridge Road remains open for visitors to reach the higher elevations for a fantastic view.

The summer destination offers abundant outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, bicycling, fishing, camping, backpacking, and riding. Therefore, it is considered to be the busiest time in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

During summer, the Milky Way over the mountain peaks is visible. To experience the eminence beauty of black night skies, visitors travel through the high, rocky mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Image by Rene Tittmann from Pixabay

3.2 Winters 

Winter is the longest season that begins in mid-October up to mid-April. The sub-alpine region, including Bear Lake, experiences freezing temperatures during winter in highly elevated areas ranging from 7,500 to 14,000 feet.

During the winter season, there is limited accessibility to Rocky Mountain National Park, which results in less crowds in the terrain region. Due to heavy snowfall, and cold temperatures, many roads and trails remain closed, which restricts access for visitors. The linking road between the East and West sides of the Rocky Mountain National Park remains closed until late May. 

Rocky mountain National park
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

However, the snowy landscape has a serene beauty suitable for winter sports enthusiasts who enjoy snowshoeing, and skiing. Rocky Mountain National Park shelters wildlife such as Elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mule deer, which are often spotted during the winter.

4. Conclusion

The Rocky Mountain National Park has miles of hiking trails that go through abundant wilderness, meadows, and woodlands. The National Park is one of the perfect places to escape a stressful lifestyle and get engaged with nature. The majestic mountain peaks ending in placid alpine lakes, filled with magnificent flora and fauna, have no match to behold your attention.

While exploring several ecological zones of Rocky Mountain National Park, you can explore the smell and sound of the forest and witness unimaginable nature. The resplendent beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park will give you an amazing array of scenery and an incredible experience.

I am a learner who enjoys the art of storytelling. With a love of language and a passion for words, I aspire to write stories that fascinate and inspire.

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