Rocky Mountain National Park
Attracting more than three million visitors each year, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the country’s most frequently visited national parks. The park ranges in elevation from 8,000 feet in the wet grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the top of Longs Peak.
Established Jan. 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. A visitor to the park has opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures.
Although the great peaks comprise the essence of the park, the delicate alpine flowers, clear lakes, rushing mountain waters, and impressive forests appeal to all the senses. An array of wildlife - bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, coyote, and elk add life to the landscape. Wildflower lovers are never disappointed in June and July when the meadows and hillsides are splashed with botanical color. Autumn visitors can relax among the golden aspens or enjoy the rowdier antics of the elk rut (mating season).
The wide variety of elevations and habitats create a choice of activities for visitors. Endless opportunities are available to hikers, backpackers and horseback riders on over 355 miles of trails. Fly fishers, bird watchers and photographers discover the splendor that they traveled to find. During the winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers revel in the white-blanketed tranquility of meadows and forests. Rocky Mountain National Park offers many ways to experience nature and all its beauty.
At least 60 peaks rise above 12,000 feet challenging intrepid hikers and climbers alike.
Rocky Mountain National Park has more than 355 miles of trails ranging from flat lakeside strolls to quite steep peak climbs. Anyone visiting between Memorial Day and late autumn can see many of these peaks eye-to-eye by driving over Trail Ridge Road. Topping out at 12,183 feet, this is the highest, continuous paved road in the United States.
If you are new to the park, rangers at the visitor centers and backcountry office can provide advice on trails that are appropriate for different fitness and experience levels. As you plan your hike, keep in mind that park elevations range from 7,500 feet to over 12,000 feet. Even very fit individuals coming from lower elevations may experience altitude problems. Symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. After a few days your body will make some physiological adjustments to higher elevations, but full acclimation may take a week. To minimize symptoms, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, don’t skip meals and get plenty of rest.
Ultraviolet light is stronger in the mountains because there is less atmosphere for the sunlight to pass through. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses, and consider covering up with a long-sleeved shirt if you are out in the sun for extended periods.
More than half of the visitors to RMNP claim hiking as their preferred activity. From a family adventure to scenic Alberta Falls to a demanding technical climb on Longs Peak, the Park’s highest mountain, there’s something here for everyone.