The nearest airport is Denver International Airport and the closest train station is the Denver Union Station. Estes Park may be reached by rental car, shuttle or RTD bus. During peak tourist season, there is free shuttle service within the park and the town of Estes Park provides shuttle service to Estes Park Visitor Center, surrounding campgrounds, and the Rocky Mountain National Park's shuttles.
Glacial Basin was the site of a resort run by Abner and Alberta Sprague, after whom Sprague Lake is named. The lake is a shallow body of water that was created when the Spragues dammed Boulder Brook to create a fish pond. Sprague Lake is a popular place for birdwatching, hiking and viewing the mountain peaks, along with camping at the Glacier Basin campground.
Colorado has one of the most diverse plant and animal environments of the United States, partially due to the dramatic temperature differences arising from varying elevation levels and topography. In dry climates, the average temperature drops 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit with every 1,000 foot increase in elevation (9.8 degrees Celsius per 1,000 meters). Most of Colorado is semi-arid with the mountains receiving the greatest amount of precipitation in the state.
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!
Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 265,461 acres (414.78 sq mi; 1,074.28 km2) of federal land, with an additional 253,059 acres (395.40 sq mi; 1,024.09 km2) of U.S. Forest Service wilderness adjoining the park boundaries. The Continental Divide runs generally north–south through the center of the park, with rivers and streams on the western side of the divide flowing toward the Pacific Ocean while those on the eastern side flow toward the Atlantic.
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park is open to visitors 365 days a year, 24-hours a day. Whether you’re a quiet observer or a full-on expeditionist, there’s something for everyone, all year long. In the winter and spring months, sled, ski, ice climb, hike, or just play in the snow. In the summer and fall months, fish, rock climb, bike, run, or go horseback riding. It’s year-round adventure at the place where adventure is always waiting.