Rocky Mountain National Park
What to See and Do and Where to Stay When Visiting
Rocky Mountain National Park:
Get critical information, insider tips, and pictures, as well as ideas for where to stay when visiting this national park located in north-central Colorado.
Details and Background
Address: 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517 Phone: 970-586-1206 Date established as a national park: January 26, 1915 Size: 265,873 acres
Visit the Official Park Service Rocky Mountain National Park site for park (which includes information such as entrance fees).
Special advisories: Permits required for all inner canyon routes; available at visitor center and North Rim Ranger Station.
10 interesting facts about Rocky Mountain National Park
- Elevations in the park range from 8,000 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak. [NPS]
- Elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and scores of smaller animals can be found in the park. [NPS]
- Rocky Mountain National Park gets as many visitors yearly as Yellowstone, even though Rocky Mountain is just an eighth the size of Yellowstone. [NG]
- A third of the park is above the tree line, so tundra is the predominate topography. [NPF]
- Tree species within the park include ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, blue spruce, lodgpole pine, aspen, Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir. [NPF]
- Wedding ceremonies are permitted in Rocky Mountain National Park. [NPS]
- 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams are the basis of the riparian (wetland) ecosystem in the park. Lush plant life and dense wildlife are the hallmarks of these wet areas that speckle and divide other ecosystems. [NPS]
- Rocky Mountain National Park licensed the nation's first female nature guides in 1917. Sisters Ester and Elizabeth Burnell learned the naturalist trade from advocate and author Enos Mills. [NPS]
- Rocky Mountain is the highest national park in the U.S., with elevations from 7,860 feet to 14,259 feet. [NPS]
10 tips for getting the most out of a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park
- Mid-June to mid-August is the most crowded. September is said to be the best month to visit. May and July are good wildflower months. [NG] Winter is described as bitterly cold. [AAA]
- Elevation is an integral part of the park experience. As the park is all above 7,500 feet, take time to acclimate before undertaking strenuous activities. Even driving at high elevation can affect sensitive individuals. Altitude sickness symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat and insomnia. [NPS]
- Activities at the park include scenic drives, fishing, camping, climbing and mountaineering, biking, picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing, ranger-led programs, horseback riding, backcountry camping, and more. [NPS]
- Trail Ridge is the highest road in any US National Park at 12,183 feet. [NPS]
- The one-way length of the East Longs Peak Trail is 7.5 miles. Average time for a round trip is 12 hours. [NPS]
- Afternoon lightning storms are frequent in the summer. [NG]
- The park's wide variety of elevations and habitats create a choice of activities for visitors -- from scenic drives and short strolls along a gentle trail to more ambitious daylong hikes to vertical mountain climbs. [NPS]
- Rocky Mountain Nature Association's Field Seminars program is committed to educating the public and making Rocky Mountain National Park serves a classroom without walls. Most seminars include lectures, with field trips that enable participants to experience the park in an atmosphere of personal instruction. Most seminars require hiking, introducing an element of rigor because of high altitude and variable weather. For more information, visit the RMNA Website. [NPS]
- You can read about current activities in the Rocky Mountain National Park High Country Headlines newspaper. This is a large PDF you can download and print. [NPS]
- Among the wildlife species you can see in the park are nearly 60 species of mammals; more than 280 recorded bird species; six amphibians, including the federally endangered boreal toad; one reptile (the harmless garter snake); 11 species of fish; and countless insects, including a surprisingly large number of butterflies. Learn more here.
Where to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park
Camping (for more information, Click here.)
Aspenglen Campground (8200 ft). 877-444-6777 Glacier Basin Campground (8500 ft) and Glacier Basin Group Sites. Does not take reservations; first come, first served. Longs Peak Campground (9405 ft). Does not take reservations; first come, first served. Moraine Park Campground (8160 ft) and Moraine Park Group Sites. 877-444-6777 Timber Creek Campground (8900 ft). Does not take reservations; first come, first served.
RVs can stay at all the above campgrounds except Longs Peak, but no electric, water or sewer hookups are available.
Also see the Estes Park Colorado Convention & Visitors Bureau site.
See the Estes Park Colorado Convention & Visitors Bureau site.
While you're visiting Rocky Mountain National Park
While you're in the area, you might as well see the beauty of the national forests currounding the park by also visiting the Arapaho National Forest to the southwest, Roosevelt National Forest to the north and east, and Routt National Forest to the northwest... as well as the Pawnee National Grassland, just a bit farther to the northeast of the park.
Guide to sources:
NG = National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States
NPF = National Park Foundation's The Official Guide to America's National Parks
KB = The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns
AAA = AAA Guide to the National Parks
NPS = National Park Service Website