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Day Trip from Denver Colorado To Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park,
Grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado will feel as though they have entered a different world. An expanse of 359 square miles, the landscape is a blending of lush mountain meadows, soaring snow-capped peaks and harsh tundra over the nearly one-third of the park resting above the tree-line. Created as a National Park by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park remains one of the country’s most visited national parks.

Known affectionately as Rocky Mountain, the park welcomes most of its visitors during the warmer summer months when guests can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, camping, horseback riding and mountain climbing. An extreme sports destination, Rocky Mountain offers athletes and outdoor enthusiasts alike unique opportunities to enjoy the natural challenges or simply bask in nature’s beauty. The Park is only about 71 miles from Denver through Estes Park Colorado.

Biking and Hiking in the Park.

Tyndall Creek Cascades in Rocky Mountain ParkRocky Mountain allows bicycle riding only on paved roads. The off-road hiking trails are too steep and too rough to safely cover with a mountain bike. Even so, don’t be fooled into thinking biking at Rocky Mountain is child’s play. The grade from Estes Park along Trail Ridge Road can take up to six hours and includes over 3700 feet of elevation change. Once at the top, riders can cruise along at 12,000 feet before screaming downhill to Grand Lake. Experienced riders will find the trip an exhilarating challenge. Beginning riders should consider parking at one of the hiking trailheads near the summit and cruising at the relatively flat alpine level. You will be above the tree-line at this point where the views are breathtaking. The grandeur of the park is evident in every rock face, every snow-capped peak visible against crystal blue skies.

While biking at Rocky Mountain is for the fully committed, hiking is something almost everyone can enjoy. There are 355 miles of trails throughout the park, many of which are rated easy or moderate. Trails can take you up the summit, around peaceful alpine lakes or alongside glistening waterfalls. The best of the lake hikes is the Cub Lake trail. A short 2 ½ miles in length, the trail is moderately difficult and crosses heavily wooded areas on the way to a mountain pond. This trail is especially beautiful in the fall when the trees change color, illuminating the sky with deep shades of red, orange, yellow and purple. Looking for something a little more strenuous? Mount Richtofen trail climbs 7.2 miles through very difficult terrain in the secluded yet stunningly beautiful Never Summer Mountains.

Nymph Lake & Hallett PeakThere are several trails for beginners or those hoping to adjust to the altitude a bit more slowly as well. The Lily Lake trail rests at a lower elevation and can be a peaceful stroll filled with wildflowers and gentle terrain. The Alberta Falls trail is a half mile of easy walking alongside Glacier Creek. Alberta Falls is incredible to watch, crashing dramatically year-round into the creek below. If you have time for just one hike, this one is it.

Trail Maps are available at any of the park’s seven Visitor Centers. Located throughout the park in the areas most visited, the Visitor Centers are the perfect place to learn more about the history of the park, safety information, pick up extra supplies for camping or buy souvenirs and gifts. Rangers-led walks and programs are available at many of the Centers and complete lists of programs and trails can be found at each of the Centers.

Mountain Climbing and Camping.

Helen Hunt Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoIn addition to hiking, mountain climbing has a long history at Rocky Mountain, from three to four hour day-climbs over boulders to big wall experiences lasting several days. Day use of the park does not require a climbing permit however multi-day trips require a bivouac permit. Remote, backcountry camping is available to those adventurous souls attempting the serious climbs with technical pitches and specific sites can be selected when obtaining the bivouac permit. Questions about the backcountry and permits should be directed to the Backcountry Office at 970-586-1242.

There are less remote campsites in the park as well. Five campgrounds provide a total of 577 sites with Longs Peak, Aspenglen and Timber Creek being first come, first served so get there early and have a back-up plan in case they are all booked up. For the less spontaneous, reservations are taken for Moraine Park and Glacier Basin campgrounds. Have a group visiting with you? Glacier Basin has group campsites available. Information is available toll-free at 888-448-1474 or by visiting or the Back Country Camping Guide at the National Park Service.

Additional Outdoor Recreation.

One of the things that make Rocky Mountain such a great destination is its multitude of activities. Fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, along with a variety of Ranger-led nature programs are all great ways to spend the day.

Getting To Rocky Mountain From Denver.

Rocky Mountain RiverRocky Mountain National Park is about 71 miles north of Denver through Estes Park. Easily accessible off Highway 66 via Interstate 25 north from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is your world away from the world. If you are driving to the Park from the west or south, take I-70 to U.S. Rt. 40., then to U.S. Rt.34 through Grand Lake, Colorado. Passenger cars pay $20 for a seven day entrance pass to the park. Bicycles, motorized cycles and pedestrians pay $10 per person. Fees are subject to change without prior notice.

Free Shuttle Bus Convenience at the Park.

Once arriving at the Park, take advantage of free shuttle buses to access many destination and loop hikes along the Bear Lake Road corridor while enjoying the beautiful scenery without the distraction and hassle of traffic congestion and limited parking. Shuttle buses run in the Bear Lake corridor, between many trailheads, the Park & Ride across from Glacier Basin Campground on the Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park and Glacier Basin Campgrounds, and the Moraine Park Museum. There are two routes: the Bear Lake Route and the Moraine Park Route. You can make a connection between them at the Park & Ride. The buses run in late spring, summer, and early fall. During the summer, the buses run everyday of the week. The buses do not run in the winter. Click here for more information.

More Information About Rocky Mountain.

US National Park Service - Rocky Mountain
Rocky Mountain National Park - Karl Snyder
Rocky Mountain National Park - Michael Dallin

So pack your picnic baskets and load up the car. Rocky Mountain Colorado is waiting!

Our visitors often use misspellings and abbreviations for Denver, Colorado
including Colarado, Calorado, Colorada, Colarada, CO and Col. Those
words are included for user convenience.

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