The sights in Rocky Mountain National Park are inextricably meshed with recreation of some sort, and you can see a lot of the park just by driving. Hiking is easily the most popular activity at Rocky Mountain National Park. There are trails for every hiking interest and ability somewhere in the 416 square miles of wilderness in the park. You can go to www.rocky.mountain.national-park.com for details on hiking in the park.
Other ways to experience Rocky Mountain National Park include:
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road goes from Estes Park on the east side of the national park up and over the Continental Divide to the park’s west side and the town of Grand Lake. This is the highest continuous paved road in North America, peaking at 12,183 feet.
On this 48-mile scenic drive you’ll go through lush forest and the treeless alpine tundra where the Alpine Visitors Center (www.nps.gov, May 23–Oct. 8, weather permitting, daily 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) at 11,796 feet has small exhibits about plant and animal life from the area and rangers to answer your questions. The road is generally open from Memorial Day to mid-October, depending on snowfall.
There are dozens of lakes in the park where fishing is allowed, but you will need to check in at a visitors center to find out which are currently open and fully stocked. For tours and lessons, contact Estes Angler (338 W. Riverside Dr., Estes Park, 970/586-2110, www.estesangler.com).
Horseback riding is permitted within the park and there are two stables in the park and two in Estes Park. Try Sombrero Ranch Stables (970/586-4577, www.sombrero.com), which has hourly rides on private ranch and national forest land.
For information about rock climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park or to sign up for a guided climbing trip, contact the Colorado Mountain School (351 Moraine Ave., Estes Park, 970/586-5758 or 800/836-4008, www.cmschool.com).
Estes Park Aerial Tramway
If you don’t want to do much besides look at this glorious place, take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway (420 Riverside Dr., Estes Park, 970/586-3675, www.estestram.com, $4–9), which takes you to the 8,896-foot peak of Prospect Mountain and provides views of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition