Everything You Need to Know About Rocky Mountain National Park

There are endless opportunities for unique adventures and experiences in Colorado. While the trendy city life of Denver and the flashy ski resorts in Aspen and Vail draw in thousands of people every year, Rocky Mountain National Park features some of the most beautiful and rugged wilderness in the country. You can hike, cross-country ski, and bike around the many untamed mountains, valleys, and lakes throughout the park. So, what are you waiting for? Venture over to the Keystone State to discover your inner-adventurer. For more travel inspiration for your trip to the Denver area, request our free Vacation Guide!

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Your Handy Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park

Plan Your Visit to the Rockies

Hours

Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, but you can check the visitor centers hours here. The park is incredibly expansive, at 265,769 acres, so there are many entrances in and out of the park coming from every direction.

Activities

The park has every kind of activity you can think of packed into its borders. Biking, Climbing, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing are just a few of the extensive list of the fun and engaging forms of outdoor recreation around the Rockies.

  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Biking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Sledding

The Best Rocky Mountain National Park Tours

New Venture Cycling Tours

Bike buffs, this one is for you. Take on Rocky Mountain National Park on two wheels with New Venture Cycling Tours. Two guides lead you from Estes Park up through the winding roads and mountain courses that match your skill level. This is a unique way to tour the park and is also a fantastic workout!

Wildside 4X4 Tours

Whether you want to rent ATVs, Jeeps, snowmobiles, or dirt bikes, Wildside 4×4 Tours has you covered for every season. Explore the peaks and valleys of Rocky Mountain National Park in every season with their assortment of vehicles rentals. Located in Estes Park, their helpful and informative staff provides you with instructions and trail suggestions before you embark on your self-guided outdoor expedition.

Estes Park Outfitters

Estes Park Outfitters offers tours for all seasons. Ride around on horseback in the summer and go hunting in the fall. If you’re looking for something a fun winter activity, try their snowcat tour. This private snow-tread vehicle takes you for three-hour of the Twin Sister mountains.

Rapid Transit Rafting

Grab your paddle and roll down the river through the Rockies in a raft! Rapid Transit Rafting is open in the summer season and provides the best whitewater rafting experiences in the area. They offer half-day and morning tours on the Cache La Poudre River and full-day trips on the Colorado River. This activity is only open in the summer.

Tip: Rafting trips are dependent on the weather and river conditions. Contact Rapid Transit Rafting for updates and trip details.

The Top 10 Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trails

There are over 350 miles of trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, but here 10 of the top-ranked trails with their corresponding difficulty level.

Emerald Lake (Easy)

This 3.5-mile hiking trail gives visitors fantastic views of Emerald Lake (which unsurprisingly gets its name from its emerald colored waters). Craggy mountain peaks stretch along the outer rim of the lake, putting you in your own little world out in the middle of the mountains. This is a very popular hiking trail due to its easy difficulty level.

Bear Lake (Easy)

This nature trail is less than a mile long and is a great way to see a gorgeous alpine lake. Tall, thin pines, aspen, and firs line the lake’s shoreline as mountains loom in the near distance. Sit on one of the benches around the lake to relax and take in a deep breath of fresh mountain air.

Lily Lake (Easy)

Lily Lake is another excellent option for those wanting great scenery with easy access. This .8-mile trail has several other trails that branch off from it, leading you to somewhat more challenging landscapes. The lake provides views of an endlessly rolling sea of alpine trees.

Sprague Lake (Easy)

Similar to Lilly Lake and Bear Lake, this wheelchair accessible trail is a great way to experience Rocky Mountain National park hiking and nature for guests of all ages and abilities.

Copeland Falls (Easy)

This .3-mile trail holds the breathtaking Copeland Falls at the end of this easy hike. A mix of large boulders, rushing water, and greenery surrounding the falls almost looks too beautiful to be real. There is a 1.1-mile trail that branches off around the side of the falls for more advanced hikers.

Gem Lake (Moderate)

A slight step up in hiking difficulty, the Gem Lake trail takes visitors on a 3.4-mile journey to glassy waters reflecting the odd rock formations surrounding the lake. On your way back, keep your eyes peeled for Paul Bunyan’s Boot, a rock structure resembling a giant shoe with a hole in the sole.

Finch Lake (Moderate)

Birding enthusiasts will love hiking this 4.5-mile trail leading up to the shores of Finch Lake. Local and migrating birds call the swampy shores of the lake home for portions of the year.

Fern Lake (Moderate)

This 3.8-mile trail is one of the more challenging hikes due to a section of the trail with a 1,275-foot rise. The expansive views of Notchtop and Little Matterhorn are well worth the challenge.

The Keyhole on Longs Peak (Difficult)

For those looking for a real challenge, Longs Peak trail will test your hiking skills. The views from these towering mountain tops are nothing short of spectacular as you look out across the Rockies. These peaks reach over 14,000 feet and the afternoons usually brings rain showers, so plan to hike this difficult trail in the morning.

Andrew Tarn and Andrews Glacier (Difficult)

This 4.6-mile trail hike takes you to a glacier-fed lake. You must climb over 2,000 feet in elevation to a total of 13,000 feet, making this a very strenuous hike.

For a full list of trails, difficulty ratings, locations, and other info regarding Rocky Mountain National Park hiking trails, check out this trail directory.

Stay at Castle Marne During Your Rocky Mountain Adventure!Castle Marne exterior

Castle Marne is the perfect place to stay while you explore Rocky Mountain National Park! Our beautiful and historic Inn sits only an hour and a half away from the park while also putting within walking distance from some of Denver’s top attractions and activities. Our luxuriously appointed rooms make your stay comfortable convenient.

Are you ready to start planning your Rocky Mountain trip? Don’t forget to get your free Denver Vacation Guide and check our availability!