10 Things to Do on a Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation - My Rocky Mountain Park

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: 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.
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1. Go for a Hike

Hiker on Chasm Lake Trail. Photo by Ben Fullerton.

Hiker hiking on Chasm Lake Trail.

More than 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.

2. Watch for Wildlife

Rocky Mountain Elk

Rocky Mountain Elk

Home to thousands of elk, mule deer, marmots, big horn sheep, and the occasional black bear, it’s not uncommon to have your park experience include a wildlife sighting. Often, you'll spot herds of elk right when you go through the park's Beaver Meadows entrance station in Estes Park. 

3. Take a Scenic Drive on Trail Ridge Road

rocky-mountain-park-trail-ridge-road

Trail Ridge Road is open seasonally and connects Estes Park with Grand Lake

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.

4. See a Waterfall

People enjoying Ouzel Falls. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

People enjoying Ouzel Falls.

A majority of the parks 30-plus waterfalls can be found east of the Continental 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.

5. Gaze Upon Mountain Peaks

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

Trail Ridge Road Overlook with Longs Peak to the left.

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.

6. Go Camping

Campers relaxing. Photo by Martinez

Campers relaxing

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.

7. Take a Guided Tour

Park ranger teaching children about nature

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? Our partner, Wildland Trekking,  offers fantastic day and multi-day trips in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

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

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

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

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.

9. Attend a Festival

Boulder Creek Festival. Photo by Flickr Dave Taylor.

Want to dance, drink, and eat good food under the shadow of the Rockies?

How about attending the best small rodeo in America? You can head to the Fraser rodeo grounds about 40 minutes from Grand Lake to see a real Colorado rodeo. Or drive 10 more minutes to play mini-golf and ride the alpine slide at the Winter Park Resort's ski hill. 

In early March, you can participate in one of the zaniest festivals in Colorado. Head to Nederland, Colo., for a winter carnival dedicated to Bredo Morstol, who is frozen on dry ice and housed in a Tuff Shed above Nederland. Celebrating its 17th year in 2018, Frozen Dead Guy Days includes coffin races, costumed polar plunging and frozen t-shirt contests. 

10. Raft Down a River

rocky-mountain-park-rafting

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 near Fort Collins, Colo. 

Or step it up a notch and raft along the Colorado River just outside of Kremmling, Colo.,  at Rancho del Rio about an hour and a half from the park's west entrance. At Rancho del Rio, you can rent your own raft and equipment at the Soggy Dollar shop, if you have rafting experience, or go on a guided day trip with a rafting guide. 

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