10 Things to Do on a Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation

The park and the Estes Park and Grand Lake areas are a Things to Do Mecca! Here are our top picks including hiking, horseback riding and scenic drives.
Publish date:
Social count:

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.

1. Go for a Hike

Hiker on Chasm Lake Trail. Photo by Ben Fullerton.

Hiker hiking on Chasm Lake Trail. Photo by Ben Fullerton.

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.

2. Watch for Wildlife

Rocky Mountain Elk

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


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

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.

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

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?

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 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.

20 Things to Do in Winter