High up in the mountains it’s named for, Rocky Mountain National Park has a little bit of everything. From montane forests and meadows to high alpine tundra there is a diverse spread of ecosystems to explore in the park. Whether you’re looking for a wilderness backpacking experience, or just want to drive the Trail Ridge Road to the top there is something for everyone of any ability.
Rocky Mountain National Park is only a two-hour drive from Denver and can easily be made a part of your trip to Colorado. The park elevation ranges from just below 8,000 feet above sea level to a little over 14,000 feet at the top of Longs Peak. If you’re coming from somewhere close to sea level, make sure to give yourself a day to acclimate before testing your limits in the park.
Here are some of the top things to do and see while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Colorado River is a mighty river that carved out the Grand Canyon and many other canyons along the way. However, in Rocky Mountain National Park the mighty river starts off as a small stream coming down from the west side of the continental divide.
After the initial climb this is a mellow hike that wanders along next to the Colorado River. There is plenty of wildlife to see along the river, including moose, elk and deer. If you’re lucky, you may spot a pika in and amongst the rocks. This trailhead is also an access point for those wishing to backpack into wilderness areas.
Located west of the Alpine Visitor Center along the Trail Ridge Road is Milner Pass. Milner Pass is where the continental divide passes through the park. Everything east of here will drain into the Atlantic Ocean and everything west into the Pacific Ocean.
Poudre Lake is located just to the east of the continental divide at the pullout. This lake offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities for birds including bald eagles and golden eagles as well as elk and moose.