The montane ecosystem is at the lowest elevations in the park, between 5,600 to 9,500 feet (1,700 to 2,900 m), where the slopes and large meadow valleys support the widest range of plant and animal life,[69][70] including montane forests, grasslands, and shrublands. The area has meandering rivers[70] and during the summer, wildflowers grow in the open meadows. Ponderosa pine trees, grass, shrubs and herbs live on dry, south-facing slopes. North-facing slopes retain moisture better than those that face south. The soil better supports dense populations of trees, like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine. There are also occasional Engelmann spruce and blue spruce trees. Quaking aspens thrive in high-moisture montane soils. Other water-loving small trees like willows, grey alder, and water birch may be found along streams or lakeshores. Water-logged soil in flat montane valleys may be unable to support growth of evergreen forests.[70] The following areas are part of the montane ecosystem: Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Kawuneeche Valley, and Upper Beaver Meadows.[70]
The outdoor adventurer remains busy throughout the year in Rocky Mountain National Park. Open 365 days a year, there are activities and sports throughout the summer/fall and winter/spring seasons. Whether looking for a new route to an adrenaline rush, or simply enjoying a favorite pastime, Rocky Mountain National Park's unique and varied landscapes offer something fun. 
Colorado is overflowing with things to do: world-class skiing, mountain biking, paddling, hiking, ATVing, hot-air ballooning and rock climbing… and that’s just the start of it. If you visit Colorado wanting an adventure, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, Colorado also offers great mountain music, sensational local breweries, gourmet cuisine, and outstanding art and culture. Be sure to book a Colorado vacation rental or Colorado cabin rental, for much-needed relaxation after your jam-packed itinerary.

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!
We started at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and scored some hats at a great price. The park rangers were really nice and provided maps and advice on where to hike. Then it was off to Sheep Lakes. Not much to see here unless you get to see some of the big horn sheep that live in the area. No such luck for us this time around, but it was fun to see photos and read about those who had made an appearance in the days prior to our arrival.

It’s open between May and October, although conditions can cause it to be closed temporarily even in those times. We recommend doing the first 18 miles or so of the road at least, from where it starts just inside the park up to just beyond the Alpine Visitor Centre. You’ll find incredible views along this stretch, and you’ll be stopping more than you might think!

I would definitely recommend driving Trail Ridge Rd. between Grand Lake and Estes Park.  This is a great drive through the entire park with lots of great pull outs and stops along the way.  Be aware that this is the highest paved road on the continent at over 12,000ft. elevation and altitude sickness affects 50% of the visitors.  Trail Ridge Rd. is very scary to drive if you're not used to curvy roads with no guards rails.  Without stops, it will take 1.5hrs to drive from town to town.  Because we stopped so much, it took us 4 hrs to get from Estes Park to Grand Lake, we ate dinner in Grand Lake and then it took us 1.5 hrs to drive straight back.
Anything is better than having multiple stop lights at a single intersection. Kudows for CDOT for thinking outside the box to find a solution that can accommodate more traffic. Sadly since we have built a city entirely dependent on single occupancy vehicles to get around it will just push the bottle neck to a different part of the traffic grid. But every little bit of efficiency helps.
We have a wide variety of vacation rental homes to suit your taste and budget. From mountain town, lakefront, golf course, luxury cabins to lodo Denver lofts. We offer short term and seasonal Colorado rentals. So many differnt types of homes are available to you from Condos, cabins, carriage houses to Mountain lookout villas. From Downtown lofts to suburban homes. Also some amazing benefits like ski-in, ski-out, home theaters, heated pools and hot tubs, saunas, fireplaces, games rooms, workout rooms and more.

The Historic Dripping Springs Resort sits along the riverbanks under ponderosa pines and quaking aspens, conveniently located just minutes from Estes Park. Whimsical rooms and cabins with country gourmet breakfasts are our signature. Couples enjoy romantic nights and walks along the river walk. Seek the bubbling hot waters and have champagne toasts in your private outdoor hot tub and have a soothing massage or steam sauna by the river. Natural setting with Rocky Mountain hospitality. Elopements, romance packages, weddings, and any special occasion, our hideaway in the forest is the perfect spot for you.
Dial (970) 586-1222 for a recorded message on the status of Trail Ridge Road. You may not know that our mountain makes its own weather, so it is not uncommon to have snow in July or August at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Such weather will only last for a few hours to a day, but if you are planning to cross over Trail Ridge Road, weather may hamper your travel. You also may find the road closed due to weather in early June and September/October.
The Swiftcurrent Lodge is small in size but huge in personal attention. We have 12 units in the summer, 6 in the winter. The advantage of being small, bordering Rocky Mountain National Park and being on the river gives one the sense of seclusion and offers a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. With these attributes plus your own custom package, the Swiftcurrent Lodge is the ideal location for your Romantic Getaway.

We started at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and scored some hats at a great price. The park rangers were really nice and provided maps and advice on where to hike. Then it was off to Sheep Lakes. Not much to see here unless you get to see some of the big horn sheep that live in the area. No such luck for us this time around, but it was fun to see photos and read about those who had made an appearance in the days prior to our arrival.
We got to the trailhead around 8am and barely ran into anyone our whole hike up. We used snowshoes the entire time but the trail is well defined. It wasn’t too windy for us but I have heard it can get really windy on this hike especially up at emerald lake. There are some inclines that will get your heart rate up but overall it isn’t too difficult of a hike. When we started to head back to our car around 9:30 the trail started to get really busy. When we left the parking lot was nearly full. If you want a quiet hike I suggested starting early.
The Ridgeline’s delectable catering options bring the same love and inspired menu ideas you might expect from Latitude 105, and takes it upscale. Our catering menus and service run the gamut from hearty buffets to elegant formal dining, from Filet Mignon, to delicately plated Chicken Piccata, Wild Caught Salmon, and scrumptious desserts. Our award-winning Chef and talented culinary staff customize each event with personalized menu options designed to perfectly match your vision, and your budget.
Gem Lake is high among the rounded granite domes of Lumpy Ridge. Untouched by glaciation, this outcrop of 1.8 billion-year-old granite has been sculpted by wind and chemical erosion into a backbone-like ridge. Pillars, potholes, and balanced rocks are found around the midpoint of the trail, along with views of the Estes Valley and Continental Divide.[42] Potts Puddle trail is accessible from the Black Canyon trail.[42]
The riparian ecosystem runs through the montane, subalpine, and alpine tundra zones and creates a foundation for life, especially for species that thrive next to streams, rivers, and lakes.[74] The headwaters of the Colorado River, which provides water to many of the southwestern states, are located on the west side of the park. The Fall River, Cache la Poudre River and Big Thompson Rivers are located on the east side of the park. Just like the other ecosystems in the park, the riparian zone is affected by the climatic variables of temperature, precipitation, and elevation. Generally, riparian zones in valleys will have cooler temperatures than communities located on slopes and ridge tops. Depending on elevation, a riparian zone may have more or less precipitation than other riparian zones in the park, with the difference creating a shift in the types of plants and animals found in a specific zone.[75]
The Pool is a large turbulent water pocket formed below where Spruce and Fern Creeks join the Big Thompson River. The winter route is along a gravel road, which leads to a trail at the Fern Lake trailhead. Along the route are beaver-cut aspen, frozen waterfalls on the cliffs, and the Arch Rocks.[44] The trail to Alberta Falls runs by Glacier Creek and Glacier Gorge.[44]
The Baldpate Inn features 12 well-appointed guest rooms in the main lodge, four secluded cabins, and a historic homestead, all of which are decorated with distinct country mountain flair and have spectacular panoramic views. All guest rooms have king or queen-size pillow-top beds dressed in high-quality linens, down or hypoallergenic comforters, and pillows. Some rooms have sinks, and some have private bathrooms with shower/bath combinations, separate showers, and soaking tubs, single or double vanities, lighted make-up mirrors, plush towels and bathrobes, and organic bath products. Sitting areas have plush sofas and overstuffed armchairs, writing desks and chairs, and large windows with stunning mountain views. Modern amenities in all suites include individual climate control with heating and cooling functions, mini-fridges, flat-screen televisions with cable channels, clock radios, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary high-speed wireless Internet.
Southwest Colorado   |   Northwest Colorado   |   The Colorado Front Range   |   Vail Valley   |   Summit County   |   Pikes Peak   |   Purgatory Resort - Durango, CO   |   Granby Ranch   |   Summit Cove   |   Dakota Lodge, Keystone   |   Wildernest   |   River Run Village - Keystone, CO   |   Foothills Lodge and Cabins   |   Silvermill Lodge   |   Keystone Ranch   |   The Springs - Keystone   |   Lakeside Village - Keystone   |   Arapahoe Lodge, Keystone   |   Wildwood Suites - Breckenridge, CO   |   The Pines, Keystone   |   Ski Tip Lodge, Keystone   |   Snowdance Condominiums
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the nation, with elevations from 7,860 to 14,259 feet (2,396 to 4,346 m),[30] the highest point of which is Longs Peak.[31] Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved through-road in the country, with a peak elevation of 12,183 feet (3,713 m).[32] Sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 feet (3,658 m) high provide scenic vistas.[30] On the north side of the park, the Mummy Range contains a number of thirteener peaks, including Hagues Peak, Mummy Mountain, Fairchild Mountain, Ypsilon Mountain, and Mount Chiquita.[33] Several small glaciers and permanent snowfields are found in the high mountain cirques.[34]
Southwest Colorado   |   Northwest Colorado   |   The Colorado Front Range   |   Vail Valley   |   Summit County   |   Pikes Peak   |   Purgatory Resort - Durango, CO   |   Granby Ranch   |   Summit Cove   |   Dakota Lodge, Keystone   |   Wildernest   |   River Run Village - Keystone, CO   |   Foothills Lodge and Cabins   |   Silvermill Lodge   |   Keystone Ranch   |   The Springs - Keystone   |   Lakeside Village - Keystone   |   Arapahoe Lodge, Keystone   |   Wildwood Suites - Breckenridge, CO   |   The Pines, Keystone   |   Ski Tip Lodge, Keystone   |   Snowdance Condominiums
Baker Pass crosses the Continental Divide through the Never Summer Mountains and into the Michigan River drainage to the west of Mount Nimbus[36]—a drainage that feeds streams and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico.[28] Other mountain passes are La Poudre Pass and Thunder Pass, which was once used by stage coaches and is a route to Michigan Lakes. Little Yellowstone has geological features similar to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Green Mountain trail once was a wagon road used to haul hay from Big Meadows. Flattop Mountain, which can be accessed from the eastern and western sides of the park, is near Green Mountain. Shadow Mountain Lookout—a wildfire observation tower—is on the National Register of Historic Places.[36] Paradise Park Natural Area is an essentially hidden and protected wild area with no maintained trails penetrating it.[39]

The park is home to many predatory animals, including Canadian lynx, foxes, bobcat, cougar, black bear, and coyotes. Wolves and grizzly bears were extirpated in the early 1900s. Most of these predators kill smaller animals, but mountain lions and coyotes kill deer and occasionally elk. Bears also eat larger prey. Moose have no predators in the park. Black bears are relatively uncommon in the park, numbering only 24-35 animals. They also have fewer cubs and the bears seem skinnier than they do in most areas.[79] Canadian lynx are quite rare within the park, and they have probably spread north from the San Juan Mountains, where they were reintroduced in 1999. Cougars feed mainly on mule deer in the park, and live 10–13 years. Cougar territories can be as large as 500 square miles.[80] Coyotes hunt both alone and in pairs, but occasionally hunt in packs. They mainly feed on rodents but occasionally bring down larger animals, including deer, and especially fawns and elk calves. Scat studies in Moraine Park showed that their primary foods were deer and rodents. They form strong family bonds and are very vocal.[81]
Glacial geology in Rocky Mountain National Park can be seen from the mountain peaks to the valley floors. Ice is a powerful sculptor of this natural environment and large masses of moving ice are the most powerful tools. Telltale marks of giant glaciers can be seen all throughout the park. Streams and glaciations during the Quaternary period cut through the older sediment, creating mesa tops and alluvial plains, and revealing the present Rocky Mountains.[61] The glaciation removed as much as 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of sedimentary rocks from earlier inland sea deposits. This erosion exposed the basement rock of the Ancestral Rockies. Evidence of the uplifting and erosion can be found on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park in the hogbacks of the Front Range foothills.[60] Many sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras exist in the basins surrounding the park.[62]
Among the agencies left unfunded by the budget impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump is the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service. The partial shutdown started Dec. 22 when Congress rejected Trump’s demand that $5.7 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border be included in a bill funding nine departments and several agencies. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed or are working with no pay because they’re considered essential.
Below 9,400 feet (2,865 m), temperatures are often moderate, although nighttime temperatures are cool, as is typical of mountain weather.[49] Spring comes to the montane area by early May, when wildflowers begin to bloom. Spring weather is subject to unpredictable changes in temperature and precipitation, with potential for snow along trails through May.[49] In July and August, temperatures are generally in the 70s or 80s °F during the day, and as low as the 40s °F at night.[49] Lower elevations receive rain as most of their summer precipitation.[48]
Looking for a great trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado? AllTrails has 191 great hiking trails, trail running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 101 moderate trails in Rocky Mountain National Park ranging from 0.6 to 39 miles and from 7,795 to 13,047 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

Where your Rocky Mountain Adventure begins! Our conveniently located, 1910 rambling mountain inn is snuggled in amidst towering pine and aspen with an expansive view of the Estes Valley. The inn consists of four luxury suite, all with private baths with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs for two. Two luxury cabins sleep up to six and have a full kitchen.
Aspen draws pro skiers, celebs and snow buffs of all kinds to its top-notch terrain, world-class resorts, and unparalleled Apres ski scene. Although everyone knows Aspen as a winter resort town, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy it in the summer, when the mountains become a perfect setting for hiking, biking and horseback tours. It’s a top vacation rental destination, too. After all the outdoor activities, who wouldn’t want to retire to a luxurious apartment or a cozy, firelit home?

Overlooking the scenic Beaver Creek Mountain, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is a luxury Colorado resort and spa where guests can experience the vacation of their dreams. From breathtaking mountain views to championship golf courses to exquisite cuisine, Hyatt’s Beaver Creek ski resort offers the perfect year-round Vail Valley mountain escape with premium amenities, such as ski in and ski out access, a year-round heated outdoor pool, and an outdoor fire pit for roasting s’mores.
Features: The Lily Lake Loop is one of the easiest hikes in the park, and the trailhead is only about 6 miles from our resort. On the Lily Lake Loop, you’ll enjoy vistas of Lily Lake, as it reflects the surrounding mountain range. Take a moment to soak in Longs Peak, Meeker, and Estes Cone. Hike, picnic, fish, and relax. At only 10 feet of elevation change across the entire trail, the Lily Lake Loop is more of a walk in The Park than a hike, and it offers breathtaking beauty that can only be found in RMNP. Lily Lake Loop is handicap accessible.
The park is home to some 2,000 to 3,000 elk in summer, and between 800 and 1,000 elk spend the winter within its boundaries. Because of lack of predation, the National Park Service culls around 50 elk each winter. Overgrazing by elk has become a major problem in the park's riparian areas, so much so that the NPS fences them out of many critical wetland habitats to let willows and aspens grow. The program seems to be working, as the deciduous wetland plants thrive within the fencing. Many people think the elk herd is too large, but are reluctant to reintroduce predators because of its proximity to large human populations and ranches.[76]
On the east side of the park lies the Beaver Meadows Entrance, the most direct entrance from Estes Park, which lies right outside Rocky Mountain National Park. An hour’s drive from Boulder and two hours from Denver, the lively Estes Park is the closest town to the park on the east side of the park. Because the entrance is so accessible from Estes Park and open year round, it is the most popular.
Enos Mills, the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Wildflowers are common in the spring and early summer. In the winter, the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski. Other lakes in the Wild Basin include Chasm Lake, Snowbank Lake, Lion Lakes 1 and 2, Thunder Lake, Ouzel Lake, Finch Lake, Bluebird Lake, Pear Lake, and Sandbeach Lake. Many of the lakes have backcountry campsites. Waterfalls include Ouzel Falls, Trio Falls, Copeland Falls, and Calypso Cascades.[47]
So you know: we worked in partnership with Visit Estes Park on our trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park, and they covered our park entry fees. The Stanley Hotel also covered our two nights of accommodation in the hotel, plus breakfast and dinner. All other expenses, including car hire, additional meals etc, we covered ourselves. If you’re interested in learning how we choose companies to work with, check out our code of ethics.
Estes Park cabins, homes, rooms, and suites bordering Rocky Mountain National Park! Enjoy wood-burning fireplaces and fully-equipped kitchens with a hot tub on-site. Free Wi-Fi, dog friendly lodging (w/ conditions). Spectacular views and great wildlife watching! Easy access to hiking, snowshoeing, back-country skiing! The perfect place for your mountain getaway!  McGregor Mountain Lodge Details 

A geographical anomaly is found along the slopes of the Never Summer Mountains where the Continental Divide forms a horseshoe–shaped bend for about 6 miles (9.7 km), heading from south–to–north but then curving sharply southward and westward out of the park.[5][27] The sharp bend results in streams on the eastern slopes of the range joining the headwaters of the Colorado River that flow south and west, eventually reaching the Pacific.[5][28] Meanwhile, streams on the western slopes join rivers that flow north and then east and south, eventually reaching the Atlantic.[5][28]

As of 2010, the preceding one hundred years of records indicated an increase in the average annual temperature of approximately 3 °F (1.7 °C).[48][52][a] The average low temperature has increased more than the average high temperature during the same time period.[48] As a result of the temperature increase, snow is melting from the mountains earlier in the year, leading to drier summers and probably to an earlier, longer fire season.[48] Since the 1990s, mountain pine beetles have reproduced more rapidly and have not died off at their previous mortality rate during the winter months. Consequently, the increased beetle population has led to an increased rate of tree mortality in the park.[53]


The Baldpate Inn features 12 well-appointed guest rooms in the main lodge, four secluded cabins, and a historic homestead, all of which are decorated with distinct country mountain flair and have spectacular panoramic views. All guest rooms have king or queen-size pillow-top beds dressed in high-quality linens, down or hypoallergenic comforters, and pillows. Some rooms have sinks, and some have private bathrooms with shower/bath combinations, separate showers, and soaking tubs, single or double vanities, lighted make-up mirrors, plush towels and bathrobes, and organic bath products. Sitting areas have plush sofas and overstuffed armchairs, writing desks and chairs, and large windows with stunning mountain views. Modern amenities in all suites include individual climate control with heating and cooling functions, mini-fridges, flat-screen televisions with cable channels, clock radios, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary high-speed wireless Internet.
More laid-back outdoor pursuits include photography, star gazing, and nature watching, as well as yoga and meditation. Horseback riding is also extremely popular and is a great way to take in the vivid landscapes of the American West. Within its cities, Colorado is very green. All major metropolitan areas have well-kept public parks and outdoor spaces.
I actually planned on hiking to Mills lake but went straight on the snow packed trail rather than turning left at the snow covered bridge:). What a happy surprise! I'm guessing the route I was following is the river in the summer. Such a beautiful day and hike! It started out really windy but it died down until I got to the lake. I hiked most of the way in just my hiking boots before I needed to put on my crampons. I did not need snowshoes though, as the trail was pretty packed down. Recommend this one!
Cushion plants have long taproots that extend deep into the rocky soil. Their diminutive size, like clumps of moss, limits the effect of harsh winds. Many flowering plants of the tundra have dense hairs on stems and leaves to provide wind protection or red-colored pigments capable of converting the sun's light rays into heat. Some plants take two or more years to form flower buds, which survive the winter below the surface and then open and produce fruit with seeds in the few weeks of summer. Grasses and sedges are common where tundra soil is well-developed.[73]
According to my GPS app the winter track up the hillside from Dream Lake is slightly off from the actual trail, but connects up with the trail within 1/4 mile. Also, about 1/4 mile from Haiyaha the trail peters out and the established track goes straight downhill to the lake. We couldn't figure out where the actual trail was supposed to go so we followed the tracks; it's very steep but will get you to the lake.
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