Rocky Mountain National Park | Colorado

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Season

Peak hiking season is June through September

Nearest city

Estes Park, CO, is located on the eastern side of the park

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Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Duration

1-4 days

Price range

from $145-$1,275/person

Go on epic hikes with picture-perfect backdrops in every direction

Rocky Mountain National Park is the essence of big country, big terrain, and photographic landscapes — no matter where you point your lens. The park is home to over 350 miles of hiking trails that range from easy walks in wildflower-covered valleys to challenging alpine climbs along the lofty heights of the Continental Divide. The park’s geological diversity, its abundance of wildlife, and accessible trails are just a few of the reasons 4.5 million visitors adventured there in 2018.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a photographer’s dream. But don’t miss out on its abundance of wildlife while you're staring up at all of its towering peaks!

Explore the Continental Divide in RMNP

Thirty miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (3,100 miles total) run through the heart of the park, and if you choose to hike a small section of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with stunning tundra, alpine terrain, and views that will stay with you for a lifetime. Depending on which side of the divide you stop to take a break, if you pour water on the western side, it will slowly make its way to the Pacific Ocean, and a drop or two on the eastern side will someday reach the Atlantic!

Most popular hiking adventures in RMNP

Continental Divide Trail Summits Day Hike

Section hike one of America’s most iconic trails: The Continental Divide Trail. This day hike starts at an impressive 12,000 feet in elevation and will take you through aspen and spruce forests while providing gorgeous views of alpine lakes below. Count on summiting Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak with stunning views of Longs Peak.

Loch Vale and Sky Pond

A long-time guide favorite, Loch Vale and Sky Pond is a moderate hike that rewards all participants with evergreen forests, sub-alpine lakes, and incredibly formed granite walls. Make sure to bring your camera for the beautiful views of Glass Lake, Taylor Glacier, and Powell Peak.

Longs Peak Loop

Longs Peak (14,259 feet) is the highest mountain within Rocky Mountain National Park. Towering above its surroundings, Longs Peak is on many summit bucket lists. This four-day hike will spend two days of hiking to acclimatize before a push for the summit on the third day. This tour is for physically fit and experienced hikers and is super rewarding with its payout of alpine terrain and a summit photo op.

Need to know

Do you need a permit?

If you want to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, a $30 permit is required from May 1st through October 31st. For non-camping visitors, the park offers a Day Pass that costs $25. A seven-day vehicle pass is $35, and a seven-day motorcycle pass is $30. An annual pass for the park is $70.

When is the best time to go?

The park’s peak season is June through September. Even though the park is open year round, snow can limit hiking activity up to the end of spring or even the beginning of summer.

What about bad weather?

While flash thunderstorms and showers are a given most days — even when clear skies abound — hiking tours are very rarely cancelled or postponed. In the summer, daytime temperatures average in the 70s; in the evenings it can get as cold as the 40s.

Group sizes and pricing

Depending on the hiking service you adventure with, group sizes are relatively small with usually no more than a 10 guests per guide. Pricing is done per participant, and the cost per person usually decreases when more people are in the group.

Is there a minimum age requirement?

Most guiding companies prefer children to be 12 or older to hike in a group. If you choose to have a privately led group, there is greater flexibility with children’s ages.

How fit do I need to be for this?

Because Rocky Mountain National Park has elevations ranging from 7,860ft to 14,259ft, acclimatization and physical fitness are very important. One of the better ways to get used to the elevation is to take things slowly for the first couple of days until your body adjusts to the different oxygen level.

Getting there

Estes Park sits just to the east of the park’s entrance and is often the meeting location of choice for any backcountry endeavors. Denver is 1.5 hours by car; Boulder, CO, is just under an hour’s drive.

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