Majestic mountains, wildlife, pristine lakes, spectacular overlooks and a natural "Rocky Mountain high" in scenic Colorado are the major attractions at Rocky Mountain National Park, encompassing 265,770 acres of unspoiled wilderness, and a history that evokes the rugged adventure of America's Old West.
Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park sits on the Continental Divide, which separates the park into two different regions.
The eastern part is where more than 3 million visitors from across the US and around the world first step foot, offering a dramatic contrast of looming mountains, deep valleys, and glorious scenic views seemingly at every turn.
The western part of the park is more densely forested and less developed, but offers the more adventurous trekker the world-class backpacking and hiking opportunities for which Rocky Mountain National Park is also rightly famous.
The closest airport to Rocky Mountain National Park is Denver International Airport, located about a 2-hour drive from the park.
The park has four major visitor centers, where travelers can see exhibits or take regularly scheduled walking tours. Also usually available are snacks, drinks and rest room facilities:
Alpine Visitor Center - At Fall River Pass at the junction of Trail Ridge and Old Fall River roads.
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center - On U.S. Route 36, three miles from the town of Estes Park.
Kawuneeche Visitor Center - One mile north of the town of Grand Lake on U.S. Route 34 at the entrance to the park.
Moraine Park Visitor Center - Off the Bear Lake Road, 1 1/2 miles from the Beaver Meadows entrance.
Rocky Mountain lodging and campgrounds
Reflecting a strong commitment to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park in its natural state, there are no hotels or resorts to be found within the park.
However, with five drive-in campgrounds within the park, Rocky Mountain National Park provides a variety of camping experiences.
They include Moraine Park, Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, Longs Peak and Timber Creek, which are ranked among some of the most scenic Colorado campgrounds. (Check to see which one of them has been designated as "reservations only" this season, and which are on a first-come first-served basis.)
Backpackers may also choose from over 200 back country campsites when they apply for their back country camping permits.
The nearest hotels are located in Estes Park, often called the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park because of its many choices in hotel and B&B accommodations, as well as restaurants and shopping all within only a few minutes drive to the park.
Activities, sports & adventure travel inside the park
Throughout the summer, Rocky Mountain National Park operates a free shuttle bus service which enables access many destination and loop hikes along Bear Lake Road, including Sprague Lake and
Wildlife viewing remains the No. 1 attraction inside the park encompassing countless opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain lions, bobcats, bear, foxes and coyotes. The park is also a birdwatchers paradise offering a glimpse at more than 280 bird species.
Camping and hiking are also some of the more active pursuits inside
the park, offering several designated campgrounds and 359 miles of trails for the avid hiker or backpacker. Horseback riding is
also permitted on most trails.
Rock climbers are also increasingly drawn to Longs Peak, Hallett Peak and Lumpy Ridge, among others. Fishing is most popular in Bear Park, located right in the very heart of Rocky Mountain State Park, where scenic overlooks like Bear Park Road vie in popularity with other spectacular "photo ops" available along Trail Ridge Road and Fall River Road.
Other attractions in Rocky Mountain National Park
The Moraine Park Museum, located along Bear Lake Road, is an old log building built in 1923 and now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Made of local ponderosa pine logs and rock, it is an impressive structure that houses a natural history exhibit inside.
Fall River Store is a very popular rest stop for visitors featuring the ONLY sit-down restaurant inside the park (breakfasts are hearty, and the elk stew also comes highly recommended!) While on a visit here, also check out the fine gift shop as well as the store's American Indian arts and crafts.
The Holzwarth Trout Lodge Historic Site is a trip back in time to a rustic dude ranch dating back to the 1920s. Located on the west side of the park, it is a 10-minute walk from Trail Ridge Road and features many of the ranch's original wagons, furnishings, and
kitchen facilities. Check at park visitor centers for times of guided tours offered during the summer.
More about Rocky Mountain National Park around the web:
Rocky Mountain National Park - The official National Park Service site featuring information on tours, exhibits, lodging, photos, maps, driving directions.