I have to say that Rocky Mountain National Park is probably the most beautiful and scenic place I have ever been. I kept thinking that I had seen the most amazing part, only to take the next turn and be wowed again. If you are in the area and are a hiking/nature fan, this is one place you shouldn't miss. If nothing else, just a drive through the park is well worth the time.
Features: The Tundra Communities Trail, AKA the Toll Memorial Trail, sits on top of the world. From this above-treeline vantage point, you’ll get a closeup look at high-country tundra, the flowers and plants it supports, and the animals that clamber across this the terrain. While the round trip hike for this path is just over a mile, it’s a bit demanding due to the elevation gain and the extreme altitude. It’s a hike that’s well worth it, though, as you’ll see unique mushroom-like rock formations just minutes from the parking pull-off. It’s a 40 minute car ride from our resort to the Tundra Communities parking area.
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. 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.
If you’re coming in from Estes Park, as we were, a great place to start is the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, which is just outside the park. Here the friendly and knowledgeable park rangers can give you plenty of advice on weather conditions, hiking trails – and even the best spots to photograph sunrise and sunset! From here, it’s a short drive to the park entrance where you’ll pay your visitor fee.
Cabins are standalone autonomous accommodation options that offer a stay in nature. You'll find cabins in all sorts of wild places, from lakesides to beaches to mountain ranges. Most are small and cozy, and traditional, letting you channel your inner explorer as you gaze out across babbling riverways or pine-studded valleys. Romantic cabins are wonderful for couples as they come with warm beds and sharing space with cracking fires and maybe even a hot tub.
Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in north-central Colorado contains some of the most popular hiking trails in North America. Situated between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, the park hosts 76 mountains over 10 thousand feet high within its 412 square miles. The national park service runs five visitor centers with the headquarters at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center— just off highway 36 in Estes Park. In addition to amazing hikes, the park has some great scenic drives, including Trail Ridge Road, which takes visitors along the continental divide on the highest paved road in the country, and Old Fall River Road, a challenging dirt road that takes you to the Alpine Visitor Center at Fall River Pass - the highest national park visitor center in the United States at almost 11,800 ft. The park has four distinct ecosystems: montane, subalpine, alpine tundra, and riparian where lucky visitors can see wildlife such as mule deer, bighorn sheep and cougars. The high country of the park features many crystal clear alpine lakes, fantastic summits, and stunning views. The Estes Park Shuttle provides service from Denver International Airport to downtown Estes Park, and many shuttles run between the various trailheads, the Moraine Park Visitor Center and even the Glacier Basin Campgrounds. Many visitors use Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge as their starting point into the park.
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.
Attractions and activities in and around the Baldpate Inn include hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park, custom tours of Estes Park, cultural arts and events at Estes Park, horseback riding and rodeo watching at Estes Park’s Stanley Fairgrounds, and fly-fishing in one of the area’s many lakes and streams. Other activities include boating on Lake Estes, summer music festivals in Bond Park and at Performance Park, golf at Estes Golf Course, shopping in the antique stores, boutiques, art galleries, and shops of downtown Estes Park, and recreational pursuits like whitewater rafting, putt-putt, go-karting, and bumper boats.
Great winter hike! We brought snow shoes and used them because we had them, but would have been fine with just microspikes and poles. Summit was beautiful, but with wind gusts up to 40 or 50 mph that made it extremely cold and a bit difficult to stand up. Elevation gain is slow and steady, making it a pretty easy 2500ft climb. Would love to do this hike again!
Misty Mountain Lodge offers the best of both worlds. 2 miles to the National Park, 2 minutes walk to everything downtown. We have rooms, suites and cabins. Every single unit is different! The back of our property is Little Prospect Mountain, and the Big Thompson River is right across our lane. If you cross the bridge in front of our place, you can follow the Riverwalk about a block down to the River Plaza (at the confluence of the Big Thompson and Fall Rivers) on the back side of downtown Estes Park.
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. 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. 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.
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).[a] The average low temperature has increased more than the average high temperature during the same time period. 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. 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.
The park has a total of five visitor centers with park headquarters located at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center—a National Historic Landmark designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West. National Forest lands surround the park including Roosevelt National Forest to the north and east, Routt National Forest to the north and west, and Arapaho National Forest to the west and south, with the Indian Peaks Wilderness area located directly south of the park.
Features: Take a quick hike around Lake Irene. Lake Irene is one of the highest lakes in the park; it’s just below the continental divide. This secluded little lake is surrounded by pine trees, and the trail is fairly flat along its entire length. However, once again, since this lake is at elevation, it can be a bit winding—you’ll notice that the trees don’t grow quite so high around the lake since you’ll be near tree line. Take note, the parking lot is the highest point on this hike, so be prepared for the uphill jaunt back to your car! Halfway through the trail, you can also visit an overlook on the trail that displays a vista of Lake Irene and a nearby meadow (this portion of the trail is not part of the length calculation above). It’s about an hour drive from the resort to the Lake Irene Picnic Area.
Hiking – Trek up in the mountains for some peace and serenity with your spouse. Take a look at our favorite easy hikes that won’t stress your body out but still include stunning panoramas of the Rockies around you. The cooler temperatures are an even better reason to snuggle up next to your sweetie as you look out over the gorgeous Colorado landscape.
A number of Wedding Packages are available, which include table and chair setup, bartender, cake cutting, dance floor, ivory or black linens, champagne/cider toast, complimentary use of centerpieces, and a pre-wedding tasting for two. Additional accessories are also available. Other wedding services like florists, musicians, DJs, photographers and more can be found locally right here in Estes Park, making coordination and set-up a breeze. If you need assistance finding a florist, baker, photographer, etc, we would be more than happy to introduce you to some of the excellent wedding vendors here in town.