Smith Fork Ranch is a traditional homestead within the Rocky Mountains and rolling meadows of Colorado featuring old-fashioned Western hospitality and sophisticated wine and cuisine. The cozy mountain lodges envelop guests in homely comfort with plush furnishings, wood burning fireplaces, original artwork, slate tiled bathrooms, handmade soaps and organic lotions, feather beds with fine linens, and hot tubs. The undulating landscape is teeming with wildlife and offers superb hiking, while activities on the ranch will keep honeymooners busy the entire stay.
Below 9,400 feet (2,865 m), temperatures are often moderate, although nighttime temperatures are cool, as is typical of mountain weather. 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. 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. Lower elevations receive rain as most of their summer precipitation.
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!
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!
With two bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen (complete with a coffee bean grinder, toaster, and crockpot) and one and a half updated bathrooms, the remote cabin provide luxury accommodations within walking distance of three picturesque mountain lakes. Guests enjoy a range of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, fly fishing, or exploring the Alta Lakes Ghost Town, or sledding, tubing, ice skating, and more in the winter months.
If you're pining to pull on the hiking boots or skis, swim in wild lakes or go canoeing in the morning, a cabin's location presents a perfect choice. Aside from the abundance of nature, cabins can also offer plenty for families. Take cabin resorts, which often have pools, playgrounds and on-site restaurants. Or, look to larger cabins with multiple bedrooms and kitchens.
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park really delivers in all seasons! This park is so beautifully diverse: from streams and Bear Lake to impressive peaks and herds of elk...I love coming back here to explore all the beauty of nature. Also, if it's too hot at the lake, drive a few thousand feet above the tree line and you're able to cool down. Nature and altitude are magical!
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.
We ended up doing Sprague Lake, which is a nice, leisurely walk along a paved path by the lake. It was a beautiful view. I only wish it wasn't so cloudy that day. Next, we drove to the Copeland Falls trail, which is a 0.3 hike from the trailhead of Wild Basin. But to the falls and back is a bit over two miles. Barely anyone was on the trail, which was nice but also creepy at the same time.