Lace up your boots and get ready to explore the vast wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra incorporates an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the sculpted peaks silhouetted against the blue sky serve as a dramatic reminder of the last ice age. Traverse this great spine of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot fresh bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of one among America’s oldest nationwide parks in the time-honored tradition – backpack on, strolling sticks in hand and sense of wonder restored.
It’s a big place, so to help you discover your method, here are some of rocky mountain posters
Mountain’s finest hikes.
Bear Lake is likely one of the park’s hottest locations for first-time visitors, and with good reason. From here you’ll have a entrance-row vantage point of the dramatic glacial valleys and hulking granite summits that make Rocky Mountain such a singular landscape. With ten lakes in the area and superb vistas, you need to positively count on giant crowds.
Hikes here range from simple jaunts round Bear Lake (0.5 miles) or to Alberta Falls (1.6 miles) to more difficult excursions that follow the glacial valleys as much as their origins. Mills Lake (5.6 miles) is a good alternative, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which can be extended to the exquisite Lake of Glass and Sky Pond (9.eight miles), each of which are as serene as their names suggest. And while Flattop Mountain (12,324ft, 8.eight miles) may not be the park’s finest summit, there’s no denying its magnetic pull from down below. Use the park shuttles to get to the trailhead.
Bear Lake to Fern Lake
This dayhike is a ranger favourite and identified for its numerous scenery. On this hike you may climb as much as the treeline and an alpine lake before dropping back down via fields of scree and into a forested valley. Here you’ll pass more lakes, waterfalls, aspen groves and elk-inhabited meadows.
Because of the park shuttle system, this is a one-way journey that requires no backtracking – and what’s more, it’s mostly downhill. You possibly can’t miss Lake Helene, which sits serenely beneath the imposing tough-reduce cliffs of Notchtop and Flattop mountains. To do this hike, park at Fern Lake Trailhead (the endpoint), then take the shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead. Shorten the journey by simply going to Lake Helene and back (5.8 miles).
Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in every approach, Longs Peak is the pinnacle of RMNP and certainly one of Colorado’s traditional climbs. The tallest peak within the park (14,259ft), its exhilarating and exhausting Keyhole Route is on many guests’ to-do list. The top of this route is the crux, consisting of slender traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most individuals begin the climb by 3am with a purpose to reach the summit earlier than noon.
The great news is that you don’t have to reach the summit or flip your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, located on the foot of the Diamond – Longs’ legendary east face the place technical climbers rope as much as scale the 1000ft wall – is routinely rated as one of the park’s best hikes. Chasm features all of the spectacular surroundings of the peak without the risk and arduous ascent. Nonetheless, at 8.four miles spherical trip, you’ll still should be in excellent shape.
At the northeastern end of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.8-billion-year-old granite formations that had been sculpted by the elements fairly than by glaciers. This markedly different type of erosion has resulted in an array of whimsically shaped boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The path to Gem Lake is a good way to explore the world, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the way in which up to the bijou-like lake.