Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

is located in Colorado, about two hours northwest of Denver. It is home to Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s “fourteeners” (mountains that rise above 14,000 feet.) The park has over 300 miles of hiking trails, colorful wildflowers, and wildlife including moose and black bears.

Weather at Rocky Mountain National Park can change quickly. It has been known to snow in the middle of summer, and you’ll want several layers of clothing to accommodate changing temperatures. The high elevation of the park brings its own challenges, and you should always have sunscreen and plenty of water as you’re exploring. If you’re planning on hiking, use this checklist to make sure you have what you need. These safety guidelines are also helpful if you’re heading to the park for the first time.

There are quaint mountain towns just outside both entrances to the park. If you’re approaching the park from the west, you’ll drive past scenic Grand Lake and may want to set aside some time to explore the restaurants, shops, and lake recreation. If you’re arriving from the more populated east side, you’ll want to meander through Estes Park (look for the majestic Stanley Hotel on the hill, made famous by Stephen King’s “The Shining”).

There is plenty to do inside the park as well. More activities occur between late May and early October, but people visit during the snowy winter weather, and there are still planned events throughout the colder months. You can find a schedule of ranger-led programs here, and if you’re traveling with children, check out the suggested kids’ activities here. Whether you visit the park when it’s blooming and green, sparkling as a winter wonderland, or bursting with fall colors, the sight of the Rocky Mountains and the lakes, streams, and landscape will stay with you well after your trip is over.

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Weather
Spring 18-51 F
Summer 39-69 F
Fall 20-59 F
Winter 12-26 F
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Where To Stay

Many campgrounds at Rocky Mountain National Park can be booked ahead of time and reservations fill up quickly. Check here to find out how to reserve your campsite before you go. Also, if you are an America the Beautiful Senior or Access Pass holder, you get a 50% discount on camping fees within the park. Campgrounds in the park are not open year-round, most operate from May through October.

RV Rentals Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Nearby RV Rentals

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Hit the Trails

Whether you’re looking for a kid-friendly path to the start of the Colorado River, or a bucket-list trek to the top of Longs Peak, there’s a trail for you at the park! Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, a snack, and a camera and keep an eye out for moose, elk, and yellow-bellied marmots.

Here are a few popular trails in the park. For all of the trails available to you, click here.

Rocky Mountain National Park Lake Trails

Bear Lake

Distance: 0.6 mile loop

Terrain: An easy walk, and an excellent interpretive nature trail around a subalpine lake.

Cub Lake

Distance: 4.6 miles round trip, elevation gain of 540 feet

Terrain: A popular hike through woods to a mountain pond, offers beautiful fall colors.

Mills Lake

Distance: 5.6 miles round trip, elevation gain of 700 feet

Terrain: Offers views of Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds from the lake.

Bluebird Lake

Distance: 12 miles round trip, elevation gain of 2,478 feet

Terrain: Strenuous hike with rewarding views

Waterfall Trails

Adams Falls

Distance: 0.6 miles round trip

Terrain: Easy hike with almost no elevation gain, the trail follows a stream and has beautiful views.

Alberta Falls

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip

Terrain: A popular hike that ends with a spectacular waterfall.

Ouzel Falls

Distance: 5.4 miles round trip, elevation gain of 960 feet

Terrain: A popular spot for hikers to watch the ouzel (a bird, also known as the American Dipper) dive into the stream below the falls.

Cascade Falls

Distance: 7 miles round trip, elevation gain of 300 feet

Terrain: A relatively flat hike through forested country ends with a scenic view next to a tumbling waterfall.

Timberline Falls

Distance: 8 miles round trip, elevation gain of 1,510 feet

Terrain: A strenuous hike through lovely Loch Vale, on the way to the falls on the east side of the park

Summit Trails

Deer Mountain

Distance: 6 miles round trip, elevation gain of 1,093 feet

Terrain: A relatively easy hike, as summit hikes go, and a popular hike in the park.

Twin Sisters Peaks

Distance: 7.4 miles round trip, elevation gain of 2,253 feet

Terrain: Two peaks to the east that offer outstanding vistas in every direction. Elevation at the summit is 11,428 feet.

Flattop Mountain

Distance: 8.8 miles round trip, elevation gain of 2,849 feet

Terrain: A hearty hike that offers panoramic views and access to many other peaks in the park.

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What to Do

Although there is plenty to do inside the park, the surrounding mountain towns offer many more activities! Relax and dine next to a rushing river, explore the area by horseback, or unwind with one of the many craft beers Colorado is known for.

Restaurants

Cafe at Trail Ridge

Type: Cafe

Location: At the summit of Trail Ridge Road in the park, next to the visitor’s center

Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ

Type: Barbeque

Location: Estes Park

Antonio’s Real New York Pizza

Type: Pizza

Location: Estes Park

Historic Rapids Lodge & Restaurant

Type: American

Location: Grand Lake

Squeaky B’s

Type: Burgers

Location: Grand Lake

Shopping

Trail Ridge Gift Store

Located next to the Cafe at Trail Ridge, the gift store offers park apparel and souvenirs, along with regional and Native American crafts

Location: At the summit of Trail Ridge Road in the park, next to the visitor’s center

Estes Park Mountain Shop

Need help getting outfitted for the park? This store has equipment and clothing for every outdoor sport you can do in the Rockies. They also offer gear rentals, guided trips, and instruction. Don’t miss the indoor climbing gym.

Location: Estes Park

Red Rose Rock Shop

After admiring the Rockies, take home some smaller rocks to commemorate your trip. The rock shop along the Big Thompson River has minerals, fossils, rocks, jewelry, gifts, and decor.

Location: Estes Park

Cascades of the Rockies

A quaint bookstore that stocks new and used books, including children’s books and a selection of Colorado authors.

Location: Grand Lake

Humphrey’s

Here you’ll find plenty of gift items - everything from mountain-themed housewares to clothing to baby gifts.

Location: Grand Lake

Museums

Holzwarth Historic Site, west side of Rocky Mountain National Park

The site offers a glimpse into the life of early Colorado homesteaders. Visitors can tour the Mama cabin to see original furnishings, try on clothes the pioneers would have worn, and practice roping a wooden steer. From June through the beginning of September, volunteers are on-hand to lead interpretive programs and help people understand what dude ranches were like more than 100 years ago.

Estes Park Museum

The museum presents exhibits showing the history of the area. The 1908 Cobb-Macdonald cabin outside is typical of an early twentieth century rustic home, and the Historic Boyd Building served as the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park more than 100 years ago.

Historic Fall River Hydroplant, Estes Park

The hydroplant was built in 1909 to provide electricity for the Stanley Hotel and surrounding areas. The hydroplant operated until 1982, when it was damaged by the Lawn Lake Flood. Now reopened as an interpretive center, the hydroplant features original equipment and interpretive panels show the growth and history of Estes Park.

Estes Park Memorial Observatory, Estes Park

The observatory hosts free private and group viewing sessions, holds lectures on astronomy and astrophotography, and is home to the Human Sundial Project.

Kauffman House Museum, Grand Lake

This museum was originally a hotel, built in 1892. It’s the only remaining log hotel built in Grand Lake before the 1900’s, and is now a museum. Learn more about the men who joined the westward movement, and the mining, trapping, and fishing they found in Grand County.

Sightseeing

Trail Ridge Road

While there are many things to do within the park, Trail Ridge Road offers the unique thrill of driving the highest continuous paved road in the U.S. The road is usually open from late May to early October, but be sure to check here before planning your drive.

Horseback Riding

Riding a horse through the Rockies is an unforgettable experience. There are several outfitters who lead tours through the park, and through surrounding scenic areas.

Fishing in Estes Park

With Big Thompson River running through town, Lake Estes to the east, and a slew of mountain lakes and streams in every direction, you can’t go wrong fishing in Estes Park. Many companies in the village specialize in leading fishing excursions or outfitting you for your day on the water.

Raft the River

Whitewater rafting is another hugely popular Colorado activity. Rafting companies offer half and full day trips, and can tailor them for first-timers or more experienced rafters.

Take a Brewery Tour

Colorado boasts the second most breweries in the nation. Book a Green Jeep tour and they’ll take you to several in the area to sample the local flavors.

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How to Get There

There are many ways to travel to Rocky Mountain National Park. You can choose to head to the west entrance of the park near Grand Lake, or the east side at Estes Park. The nearest airport is Denver International Airport, about a two hour drive from the east entrances to the park. On very busy days, consider using the Fall River Road east entrance instead of the more popular Beaver Meadows entrance. The west side is less populated and tends not to be as busy.

Rocky Mountain National Park is very RV accessible as well. Renting an RV allows you to travel through the park with ease, stopping and spending more time wherever you wish. If you don’t own an RV, RV rentals are available around the country. Whether you want to start where you live and drive, or rent an RV near Denver and head to the park, there are options available.

There are several campgrounds in the park that accommodate RVs, but be sure to check their websites beforehand. Many require reservations and you’ll want to make those well in advance of your visit!

Entering the Park

While there is a fee to enter Rocky Mountain National Park, the National Park Service has a few designated free days which you can find here. Fourth graders can also get a pass that allows them and everyone in the vehicle with them free entrance into all national parks for the year. You can get your Every Kid in a Park Pass here.

The National Park Service also offers Annual Passes and Lifetime Senior Passes, which you can find here. You can also pre-purchase your pass online here.

Private Vehicle: 1 day pass : $25

Private, non-commercial vehicles (16 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants.

Private Vehicle: 7 day pass : $35

Private, non-commercial vehicles (16 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants.

Motorcycle: 7 day pass : $30

Valid for seven consecutive days including date of purchase. Covers one motorcycle.

Per person: 7 day pass : $20

Valid for seven consecutive days including date of purchase. Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups

Whatever time of year you’re planning to travel to Rocky Mountain National Park, you won’t be disappointed! The awe-inspiring mountains and abundant wildlife make this a place you’ll never forget. At RVshare, we love encouraging people to get outdoors, to spend time with friends and family, and to do all this while seeing the beauty of this world together. RVing allows you to experience the majesty of nature with your family in a truly unique way. Whether you explore Rocky Mountain National Park in an RV you rent through us, or while tent camping or staying in a cabin, we’d love to hear all about your trip! Send us pictures of your adventures at [email protected], tag us on social media, and share details about your trip and tips you want others to know for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.