Rocky Mountain National Park, located in Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colorado, boasts amazing mountain hiking trails, breathtaking views, and many attractions for outdoor enthusiasts. Although the park is located a mere 2 hours from Denver, you’ll find yourself in a different world at Rocky Mountain National Park, as you’re surrounded by majestic splendor, a stunning landscape, and incredible wildlife.
If you’re into hiking, the park contains 359 miles of networked trails, offering varying degrees of difficulty. You can also take self guided hiking tours or be led by a tour guide. Most trails allow horse riding and llamas to be used as pack animals. As a result of the climate, the environment changes the higher you go. Montane forests and grasslands are found at the lower elevations along with ponderosa pine. As you pass 9,000 feet, Douglas fir trees begin to appear, giving way to Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. As you hike above the tree line, you’ll begin to experience the alpine tundra, where plants have a very short lifespan and growing period.
One of the unique features in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Continental Divide (where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans split their drainage.) The Divide runs through the park, dividing the park into East and West. This causes the western region of the park to remain wet, creating lush, deep forests, while the eastern side stays drier, offering glaciated mountain peaks.
Fishing is allowed in many streams and lakes, with favorite catches in the area being the greenback cutthroat trout, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Many visitors enjoying fly fishing in any of the over 150 fishable lakes in the park. Keep in mind that a valid fishing license is required to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Some of the incredible wildlife you may encounter while in the park are elk, deer, big horn sheep, moose, bobcats, and bears. As the area is a nature preserve and hunting is prohibited, these types of animals roam free in the park. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get some great pictures of some of these beautiful animals. Always remember to be aware of your safety at all times and keep your distance from the wildlife. Feeding the wildlife is prohibited.
Because of the climate, which spans sub-alpine and alpine zones, visitors can also enjoy snow activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling during the winter months. The park has resources for equipment rental and provides dedicated areas at higher elevations to enjoy these exciting activities.
If you’re more comfortable in the water, Rocky Mountain National Park also offers great water activities such a swimming, canoeing, rafting, and kayaking. While no motorized boats are allowed, water activities are allowed on almost all of the wonderful lakes in the park. Be prepared though, as the water is going to be cold. Typically, the water temperatures remain at 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
Sightseeing in the park offers visitors an opportunity to see towering mountain peaks breaking the horizon, as well as breathtaking views of the rivers and valleys along the many trails and scenic routes. As the park boasts over 60 named peaks over 12,000 feet, make sure to bring your camera to get some amazing pictures of the mountains. One sight to behold is Long’s Peak, the only mountain peak over 14,000 feet in the park. You can also take a drive up Trail Ridge Road to experience the same environment as you would in the arctic tundra. Before taking off on one of these journeys, always make sure your car is serviced and full of fuel.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful place to visit for hikers, fishermen, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts in general. From adventure sports to simply relaxing in a peaceful meadow, Rocky Mountain National Park is bursting with amazing and beautiful surprises.
For more information on the park, as well as activities, regulations, etc. please visit www.rockymountainnationalpark.com