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ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK VISITOR GUIDE

CAMPING

Find campsite guides and reservation information.
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HIKING

Hike to waterfalls, lakes, or mountain peaks.
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WILDLIFE

See bear, elk, moose, and cougars if you are lucky.
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WEATHER

Updated weather info from around the Park.
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LONGS PEAK

Climb the tallest 14er in the Front Range
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Start Planning Your Next Visit!

Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Rocky Mountain National Park is a breathtaking haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Spanning over 265,000 acres, the park boasts a stunning array of majestic mountains, pristine alpine lakes, and verdant forests. Visitors to the park can explore over 350 miles of hiking trails, witness diverse wildlife, and engage in a multitude of recreational activities. 

Whether seeking thrilling adventures or peaceful solitude, Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rugged charm of the American West. Get started planning your visit with our Rocky Mountain National Park Visitor Guide.

Hiking Trail Guide

Discover some of the best hiking trails at Rocky Mountain National Park, from tough class three scrambling to family-friendly walking paths.

Dispersed camping in Colorado

Camping Guide

Learn about the five campgrounds at Rocky Mountain National Park along with regulations for backcountry camping reservations and permits.

Interactive Park Map

Wildlife & Ecology Guide

While at Rocky Mountain National Park, you can see cougars, bear, elk, moose, deer, bald eagles, and many other animals, fish, insects, and birds.

Alpine Visitor Center Weather

Visitor Centers Guide

There are several Visitor Centers at the Park with exhibits, programs, gift shops, and refreshments, including the famous Alpine Visitor Center.

Lodging Guide

While at Rocky Mountain National Park, you can see cougars, bear, elk, moose, deer, bald eagles, and many other animals, fish, insects, and birds.

Leave No Trace & Safety Guide

There are three Visitor Centers at the Park with exhibits, programs, gift shops, and refreshments, including the famous Alpine Visitor Center.

Seasonal Information and Things To Do at RMNP

Get season-specific information and advice on what to do while visiting the National Park all year-round.

Summer at RMNP

Autumn at RMNP

Winter at RMNP

Spring at RMP

Hike Deer Mountain in RMNP

About Rocky Mountain National Park: History, Geography, & Things To Do

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), established on January 26, 1915, is a true treasure among the United States’ national parks. Encompassing over 415 square miles of breathtaking landscapes, RMNP boasts an extensive range of ecosystems, from montane forests and subalpine meadows to alpine tundra. The park’s rich history includes evidence of ancient Paleo-Indians, as well as later Native American tribes, fur trappers, and early settlers who once called this remarkable region home.

The park’s layout is characterized by its rugged, glacier-carved terrain, which encompasses over 150 named peaks that rise above 10,000 feet, 77 of which exceed 12,000 feet. RMNP is divided into several distinct regions, including the popular Bear Lake corridor, the Wild Basin area, the scenic Kawuneeche Valley, and the iconic Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. Visitors can immerse themselves in a multitude of activities such as hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, and fishing. The park’s extensive trail system offers more than 355 miles of trails suitable for all skill levels, from easy strolls around pristine alpine lakes to challenging backcountry treks.

What sets RMNP apart from other national parks is its unique combination of striking alpine scenery, diverse ecosystems, and a rich cultural history. The park is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, making it a haven for both nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers. Among its many iconic features, the towering Longs Peak stands out as a symbol of the park’s majestic beauty. Rising 14,259 feet above sea level, Longs Peak is the northernmost fourteener in the Rocky Mountains and a sought-after destination for climbers.

Climbing Longs Peak is a formidable challenge that requires physical fitness, proper preparation, and respect for the mountain’s unpredictable weather conditions. The lore surrounding the peak includes numerous tales of the first ascents, daring rescues, and even tragic losses, reminding us of the mountain’s power and allure. For those considering taking on this legendary summit, remember that it is not a feat to be taken lightly. Approach Longs Peak with caution, respect, and a solid understanding of the risks involved, ensuring a safe and unforgettable experience in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Note: A rocky mountain national park timed-entry system is in place during the summer months when visitation is greatest. If you arrive without a reservation, you will not be allowed entry into the park. Click here to read more about the timed-entry system and other park permits, fees, and reservations.

How to Get There From Denver, Colorado

The entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. The drive from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on weather and traffic conditions. 

Get on I-25 north and take exit 217A on the left to merge onto US-36 W toward Boulder. Drive 35 miles through Boulder until you hit a T-intersection just outside Lyons. Take a left to continue on US-36W, and after 1.3 miles take a slight left to continue onto Main Street. Turn right to continue onto US-36W for another 20.3 miles. Entering Estes Park, take a left onto E Elkhorn Avenue through downtown Estes Park, and take a left after 0.4 miles to remain on US-36W. Drive 2.5 miles and the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center will be on your left, with the entrance ahead of you.

Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park

There are tons of activities to try and places to explore at RMNP. Here are some of my favorite hiking trails, mountain summits, alpine lakes, and visitor centers to check out during your trip to the mountains. Click here to see my full list of things to do.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: The best time to visit RMNP is typically from June to September, when the weather is warmer, and most trails and facilities are accessible. However, the park is open year-round, and visitors can enjoy different activities depending on the season.

A: Yes, during peak seasons, a timed-entry reservation system may be in place for the park. You’ll also need to pay an entrance fee or have a valid National Park pass. Visit the official RMNP website for up-to-date information on fees and reservations.

A: RMNP is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, mule deer, and numerous bird species. Keep in mind that wildlife is wild, so maintain a safe distance and never feed or approach animals.

A: Pets are allowed in RMNP but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet and are only allowed in specific areas like campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roadsides. They are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry.

A: Cell phone reception in RMNP can be limited or nonexistent, especially in remote areas. It’s a good idea to have a printed map and inform someone of your plans before venturing into the park.

A: Yes, fishing is allowed in RMNP with a valid Colorado fishing license. There are specific regulations on fishing methods, catch limits, and species, so consult the park’s website or visitor centers for detailed information.

A: Some areas of the park may have seasonal or temporary closures to protect wildlife or due to hazardous conditions. Always check the park’s website or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on closures and restrictions.

A: Winter activities in RMNP include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and wildlife viewing. Some roads and facilities may be closed due to weather conditions, so check the park’s website for current information.

Q:Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) was founded on January 26, 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Rocky Mountain National Park Act, establishing the park as the tenth national park in the United States.

Yes, you can drive into Rocky Mountain National Park, but you’ll need to pay an entrance fee or have a valid National Park pass. During peak seasons, the park may implement a timed-entry reservation system, which requires visitors to reserve a specific time slot for entering the park. It is recommended to check the official park website for the most up-to-date information on fees, reservations, and any temporary restrictions before planning your visit. Once inside the park, there are several scenic drives, such as Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road, that offer stunning views of the mountains and surrounding landscapes.

14er Planner

Download my Colorado 14ers Planner for Your Next Summit!

Subscribe and get my free planner with all 58 peaks in the perfect climbing order.

14er Planner

Download my Colorado 14ers Planner for Your Next Summit!

Become a subscriber to download my free 14er planner. It lists all 58 peaks in the perfect climbing order. Get it now & start planning!