Rocky Mountain National Park: Things to do | Weather | Camping
Shimmering glaciers and vibrant lakes, limestone caves and craggy peaks, alpine meadows and dense forest—the vast landscape of the Canadian Rockies is a treasury of scenic splendor. Rocky Mountain National Park was established on January 26, 1915. Rocky Mountain encompasses 415 square miles of spectacular mountain environments that are just a short drive from Denver, Colorado. One of the U.S.’s most visited national parks. Rocky Mountain hosts almost 4.5 million people every year. The Rocky Mountains, commonly known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains, commonly known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rockies are located between the Great Plains on the east and a series of broad basins and plateaus on the west.
The Rocky Mountains are 76 million years old and their highest peak is Mount Elbert in Colorado which is 4401 meters high. Most of the mountain range now is protected by National Park status. This is to stop the area from being damaged and built on. The backbone of Rocky Mountain National Park includes some of the highest mountains in the continental United States. The top third of the park encompasses the alpine tundra, windswept land above the trees. Landscapes on either side of the Continental Divide feature alpine lakes, forested valleys, and a wide range of plants and animals. Iconic summer thunderstorms and persistent winter winds are among the forces that continue to shape this majestic landscape.
Rocky Mountain National Park Camping
The Rocky Mountains is divided into five groups:
1.The Canadian Rockies
2.The Northern Rockies
3.The Middle Rockies
4.The Southern Rockies
5.The Colorado Plateau
Rocky Mountain National Park Weather
Winter Season (November-March) -Winter means snow in the Rockies and snow means fun! Lower elevations on the east slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are usually free of deep snow. At higher elevations, arctic conditions prevail. Sudden blizzards, high winds, and deep snowpack are common. The west side of the park experiences more snow, less wind, and clear cold days during these months. The temperature during these months ranges from 4°C – 8°C. Skiing and snowshoeing conditions are best in January, February, and March. Spring (April – May) – Spring comes to the mountainous environments – elevations 2,438m – 2,895m – in late April, although snowfall is not uncommon at this time of year. Unpredictable weather alternates between warm and cold, wet and dry. Wildflowers begin blooming at lower elevations in late April or early May. Many trails are still snow-covered. In late May, Trail Ridge Road opens for the season. Summer (June – August) – On the alpine tundra — 11,500′ to 13,000′ (3,505 – 3,962 m) wildflowers bloom from late June to early August. Afternoon thunderstorms and wind are normal patterns. Always be prepared for temperature drops of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall (September – November) – September and October bring clear, crisp air, blue skies, and generally dry weather. Aspen leaves start changing colors in mid-September. An early snowstorm may occur. Trail Ridge Road usually closes for the winter by mid-October.
Things To Do In Rocky Mountain National Park
1. Scenic Drives in Rocky Mountain National Park -These three roads pass by the most scenic park views that can be seen from a car: Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake Road, and Old Fall River Road. • Trail Ridge Road – Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. Known appropriately as the Highway to the Sky, Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide at a whopping 12,183 feet. Colorado has also designated Trail Ridge Road as a scenic and historic byway. Road facts: a) 48 miles long, 11 miles above treeline. b) The highest elevation, 12,183 feet. c) 200 species of tiny alpine plants with a 40-day growing season.
• Bear Lake Road – Bear Lake Road runs between Upper Beaver Meadows and Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s one of the Park’s most popular alpine lakes. One of the best views of Moraine Park can be found at the Moraine Park Museum just a few miles from Beaver Meadows. Bear LakeRoad was originally built in 1928 and now both the lower and upper sections have been updated. Several popular trails begin at Bear Lake. Some are short and moderate hiking for families with younger children, while others are more strenuous. At an altitude of 9475 feet, Bear Lake freezes in the winter. • Old Fall River Road – The 9.4-mile gravel, one-way road leads cars along the steep slope of Mount Chapin’s south face past waterfalls, pine forests, and Fall River Pass. Old Fall River Road is a seasonal road. The road is usually open from early July to early October, however, it experienced heavy snow in June 2019. The road continues along its narrow path offering views across the valley of Sundance Mountain high in the alpine tundra. Many varieties and colors of wildflowers grow along the road. Be sure to watch for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and marmots when you get above the tree line.
2. See a Waterfall – Colorado is known for its natural beauty. Breathtaking waterfalls are generally not among those attributes. From epic snowfall come impressive waterfalls. Snow melts throughout the summer and cascading over rocks and down mountains, providing hikers with naturally air-conditioned spots along the trails. Late spring and early summer are the ideal times to make the most of the melt and see the falls gushing. You hear the sound of water tumbling down the rocks. You feel the cool mist settling as the warm sun shines. Some of the top waterfalls of Rocky Mountains are: • Alberta Falls • Ouzel Falls • Timberline Falls • Chasm Falls • Adams Falls
3. Go for a Hike – Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of hiking trails. They range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs. It draws hikers from all around the world to its diverse and beautiful trails. Rocky’s trails and trailheads are divided into 5 regions, and these are: • The Westside – known for moose & big meadows • The Alpine – known for spectacular tundra • North of Hwy 34, 36, and Estes Park – known for wilderness escape • Bear Lake, the heart of the Eastside – known for easy access with great views & lake hikes. • Long’s Peak and Wild Basin – known for waterfalls & backcountry.
4. Go Camping – There is nothing like camping in Rocky Mountain National Park to experience true wilderness. Campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park offer unique, wilderness-meets-community experiences for couples, families, and groups. Many hikers want to experience the thrill of camping in the wild, which is what backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is like.
List of campgrounds located in the Rocky Mountains: • Timber Creek • Aspenglen • Moraine Park • Glacier Basin • Longs Peak
5. Watch for Wildlife – With over 60 species of mammals, 280 species of birds, and 11 species of fish, Colorado national parks are bursting with wildlife. It’s home to thousands of elk, mule deer, marmots, bighorn sheep, and the occasional black bear. It’s no surprise that wildlife watching is rated the #1activity by a vast majority of Rocky’s 4 million annual visitors. Here are a few tips to help keep you and the animals safe: • Keep a safe distance and stay alert. • Never approach or attempt to touch wildlife! • Use binoculars and zoom lenses to observe and photograph wildlife from a safe distance. • Obey all state and national park laws. Observe signs and postings of area closures. • Never feed wildlife.
6. Go for Fishing – Fishing opportunities in the Rocky region range from high country catch and release fly fishing to big lake fishing to wintertime ice fishing. Trout fishing is popular here, with the headwaters of Colorado, Cache la Poudre, and Big Thompson Rivers providing 150 miles of fishable waters. Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting. No specific fishing seasons or times are designated by the Rocky Mountain National Park site. Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain, and Lake Granby on the Westside are large lakes with commercial marinas, boat rentals, and fishing charters. Lake Estes and Marys Lake on the East side are smaller. Seven native species and four exotic fish species that now inhabit the aquatic systems of the park. Visitors under 16 years of age must possess a valid Colorado fishing license. No other permit is necessary, but special regulations do exist. The Rocky Mountain National Park limits the number of fish visitors can possess per day to eight fish, six of which must be brook trout.
7. Go for Biking – Bicycling in Rocky Mountain National Park is a breathtaking experience. Mountain biking on paved roads in Rocky Mountain National Park offers dramatic scenery. Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake Road, and Old Fall River Road are frequented by road bikers looking for a challenge. Be aware park roads have narrow or no shoulders and often carry heavy traffic. To minimize conflicts with vehicles, plan your ride for the early morning hours. Mountain bikers in the National Forests can choose from a wide variety of four-wheel roads and trails. They range from short to long, flat to steep and easy to difficult. Each bicyclist is required to have a 1- or 7-Day “per person” pass or be covered under an annual or lifetime pass. Cyclists should stay on the right side of the road. Safety is your responsibility, cycle at your own risk.
8. Go for Horseback Riding – Horses have always been a part of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are over 260 miles of trails, 13 stocks designated backcountry campsites and two stables located within the Park during summer months. Families of all ages can ride for just an hour or an entire day. Most visitors choose to take a guided trip throughout the park. When riding, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for impressive overlooks and wildlife. Your kids will have a blast with our pony rides. They will want to come back to ride again and again.
9. Go for Shopping -Brownfield’s in Estes Park, Colorado’s favorite store! Brownfield is a vacation tradition and a “locals” favorite. Brownfield’s has been serving the people of Estes Park since 1956. It is a large souvenir store with an outdoor flavor. Hiking shoes and outerwear make up a large share of the store’s goods, along with t-shirts, sweatshirts, and souvenir items of the area. Brownfield has the largest selection of souvenir items with the highest quality and best prices. The store is open from mid-May until early November each year. The interior of the store was again updated in 2019 and will continue to evolve as trends and culture change. There are several other famous stores which you can visit to do shopping, and these are: • Rocky Mountain Gateway Gift Shop • Mountain Blown Glass • Aspen and Evergreen Gallery • Laura’s Fine Candy • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory • Fall River Jewelry, Coins & Antiques • Earthwood Collections
10. Go for climbing – With hundreds of granite faces and various peaks, Rocky Mountain National Park carries a reputation as a world-class climbing destination. Many visitors flock to Rocky Mountain National Park, to have a chance to scale or rock climb big mountains. Climbing has been a popular activity in the area of Rocky Mountain National Park since the 1800s. Sport climbing dominates in summer and fall when the temperatures are moderate and the sun rises early and sets late. Everyone wants to get in as much time on the rock as they can. This provides excellent opportunities for a wide spectrum of climbing including rock, big wall, snow, and ice, bouldering and mountaineering. It is a Mecca for local climbers, as well as those from around the world. Opportunities for climbing exist in many areas of the park including Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak and outside the park in Estes Park. Snow Melt Snow Freeze, Snow MeltSnow Freeze. As the pattern continues in Rocky Mountain National Park, waterfalls solidify and ice climbers start noticing.
11. Go for snowshoeing -Ever thought how fun it would be to hike in the winter, but there’s all that snow? Consider snowshoeing! It’s as easy as strapping snowshoes on your boots and grabbing a couple of poles. Most park trails can be explored with snowshoes. These are a great way to get outside and enjoy winter. You will just need a pair of snowshoes and waterproof boots.
Nightlife in the Rocky Mountains
There’s no good reason to spend your nights on a couch in Windcliff! The Park offers several desirable destinations for memorable evening entertainment. There are various activities you can do at night: • Catch a musical or theatrical production • Shop the stores with long summer hours • Take the kids to an arcade or amusement park • Play miniature golf • Go to a movie, rent a movie • Relax in a tavern or restaurant with live music • Dine-in a historic setting or savor exceptional cuisine • Join nightlife with your friends at a Karaoke bar • Enjoy a cowboy chuckwagon dinner complete with evening entertainment • Attend an evening campfire program at one of the Park’s campgrounds