10 Things to Do on a Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation

We realize that travelers determine their vacation destination based largely on the things to do in an area. Well, we have news for you: Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding regions are a Things to Do Mecca! There is so much to do on a Rocky Mountain vacation that you’ll be hard-pressed to fit it all in a single vacation.

Hiker on Chasm Lake Trail. Photo by Ben Fullerton.

1. Go for a Hike

Over 350 miles of trails crisscross the Park, linking together alpine lakes, jagged peaks, thick lodgepole Pine forests and rocky tundra. Dominating the skyline, and topping out at 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is the ultimate adventure for enthusiastic hikers.

Rocky Mountain Elk

2. Watch for Wildlife

Home to thousands of Elk, Mule Dear, Marmots, Big Horn Sheep, and the occasional Black Beer, it’s not uncommon to have your Park experience include a wildlife sighting.


3. Take a Scenic Drive on Trail Ridge Road

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 history byway.

People enjoying Ouzel Falls. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

4. See a Waterfall

A majority of the Parks 30 odd waterfalls can be found east of the Divide in two heavily concentrated areas: Wild Basin and Glacier Gorge. Fern Lake Trailhead is also a popular place to access several waterfalls due to its close proximity to Moraine Park and Moraine Park Campground.

Longs Peak (left) from a Trail Ridge Road overlook. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

5. Gaze Upon Mountain Peaks

The Mummy Range is in the north end of the park. Also don’t miss snagging a few views of the Never Summer Mountains on the Park’s western border. And of course, the famous Longs Peak can be seen from many overlooks and trails in the park.

Campers relaxing. Photo by Martinez

6. Go Camping

There are five drive-in campgrounds and one drive-in group camping area inside the park. Can’t find a campsite inside Rocky Mountain Park? Don’t worry. it’s bordered by the Never Summer Wilderness, Arapahoe National Recreation Area, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Roosevelt National Forest, and Comanche Peak Wilderness. No matter which one you visit, there is usually always a place to pitch a tent, park an RV, or hike a few miles into the backcountry.

Park ranger teaching children about nature

7. Take a Guided Tour

We know exploring a national park can be an exciting activity to do on your own, but why not spend a few hours and check out a ranger-led program or let an expert show you around?

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO which inspired the Stephen King Book "The Shining"

8. Stay a Night in the Historic, Haunted Stanley Hotel

Just six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park and towering above the small mountain town of Estes Park, The Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Take a ghost tour or spend the night.

Boulder Creek Festival. Photo by Flickr Dave Taylor.

9. Attend a Festival

Want to dance, drink, and eat good food all in the name of a frozen dead guy? Done. How about attend the best small rodeo in America? Yep, got that covered too. Or how about throwing on a kilt and tossing a kaber? Better yet, how about tossing it with the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop? Done, done and done.


10. Raft Down a River

Two major rivers offer numerous rafting opportunities a short distance from the Rocky Mountain National Park area. Explore the La Poudre River Canyon while charging class II – IV rapids on the Poudre River. Or step it up a notch and test your skills in Gore Canyon along the Colorado River.

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