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Rocky Mountain National Park

  • 135Audio Points
  • LocationColorado, USA
  • Suggested TimeAllow 1+ Days

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What to Expect

Rocky Mountain National Park boasts the very best of what Colorado and the Rocky Mountains has to offer: unbelievably scenic mountains, awesome hiking and superb wildlife viewing

But perhaps the most memorable aspect of the Park is that it was created with the driving visitor in mind.

Nowhere else in the country can you drive a scenic route that brings you above the treeline and into the alpine tundra for 11 miles, peaking at altitudes over 12,000 feet. There are many scenic viewpoints including Rainbow Curve Outlook and Mushroom Rocks overlooks along the driving route, and easy, accessible trails at Sprague and Bear Lakes.

Or you may want to follow the historic route that the earliest visitors drove in their Stanley Steamers or Model T’s on the Old Fall River Road.

Hear all about the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park” and the other influential characters who fought and invested heavily to preserve this area.

But many visitors are drawn by the excellent wildlife watching opportunities.  Especially during the Fall rut when male bull elk and moose are fending off rivals vocally and physically.  We’ll point out the best locations to keep watch and increase your chances.

This is a truly unique experience that has thrilled drivers and passengers since the 1920s.

Reservations

Rocky Mountain National Park has a ticketed timed entry again in 2021, beginning Memorial Day through mid October.

One pass will allow entry to the entire Park including the Bear Lake Corridor, required from  from 5am to 6pm.  Another will access the rest of the park (excluding the Bear Lake Corridor) required 9am to 3pm. 

Ticket window entry times are expected to go on sale 30 days in advance with a certain percentage held over for sale 48 hours prior to date of visit. For details and reservations visit recreation.gov.

Listen to the Tour Intro

Highlights

  • Alpine Visitor Center
  • Bear Lake
  • Estes Park
  • Grand Lake
  • Holzwarth Historic Site
  • Lava Cliffs
  • Many Parks Curve Overlook
  • Mushroom Rocks
  • Old Fall River Road
  • Rainbow Curve Outlook
  • Sprague Lake
  • The Stanley
  • Trail Ridge Road

Map

Suggested Start Location

Estes Park or Grand Lake

Suggested Time

You can drive the Trail Ridge Road return between Estes Park and Grand Lake in single day, with plenty of time for stops.  Add extra days for Old Fall River Road, wildlife watching and hikes

Driving Distance

Between Estes Park and Grand Lake, driving on the Trail Ridge Road is 49 miles (78 km) one way and takes about 2 hours, plus time for stopping at our recommended viewpoints and places of interest. Otehr short drives in the Park include Bear Lake and the Old Fall River Road.

FAQ

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK?

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park, then November through to April is the best time. Summer and fall weekends are the busiest times, and yearly visitation grows each year. However if you’re looking to drive the popular Trail Ridge Road then you need to plan on visiting when it’s open from May to October, weather depending.

WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT MISS IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK?

Rocky Mountain National Park boasts the very best of what Colorado and the Rocky Mountains has to offer: unbelievably scenic mountains, awesome hiking and superb wildlife viewing. 

Nowhere else in the country can you drive a scenic route that brings you above the treeline and into the alpine tundra for 11 miles, peaking at altitudes over 12,000 feet. There are many scenic viewpoints including Rainbow Curve Outlook and Mushroom Rocks overlooks along the driving route, and easy, accessible trails at Sprague and Bear Lakes.

Or, you may want to follow the historic route that the earliest visitors drove in their Stanley Steamers or Model T’s on the Old Fall River Road.

HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK?

You can drive the Trail Ridge Road return between Estes Park and Grand Lake in single day, with plenty of time for stops. You’ll want to add extra days for Old Fall River Road, wildlife watching and hikes, so we recommend at least three days in Rocky Mountain National Park – and more for avid hikers.

CAN I GET INTO ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK WITHOUT A RESERVATION?

In 2021, Rocky Mountain National Park has a ticketed timed entry again from Memorial Day through mid October.

One pass allows entry to the entire park including the Bear Lake Corridor, and is required from 5am to 6pm. Another will access the rest of the park (excluding the Bear Lake Corridor) and is required 9am to 3pm. Reservations are not required for these areas prior to or after these times.

Ticket window entry times go on sale 30 days in advance with a certain percentage held over for sale 48 hours prior to date of visit. For details and reservations visit recreation.gov.

CAN I DRIVE OLD FALL RIVER ROAD IN A REGULAR VEHICLE?

Yes, Old Fall River Road is unpaved but well maintained so it is suitable for regular passenger vehicles.  The road is one-way and uphill so you will drive to the top at the Alpine Visitor Center, and then drive down using Trail Ridge Road. Old Fall River Road usually opens by 4 July.

Trip Planning

11GyPSy Guide Audio Driving Tour App Rocky Mountain National Park

5 Tips For Driving Rocky Mountain National Park

When planning your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, knowing what you want to see and experience will help to determine when to visit this park.
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