Lace up your boots and get ready to discover the huge wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra accommodates an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the sculpted peaks silhouetted towards the blue sky function a dramatic reminder of the final ice age. Traverse this great backbone of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot contemporary bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the a hundredth anniversary of one in every of America’s oldest nationwide parks in the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of wonder restored.
It’s a giant place, so that will help you discover your approach, here are a few of Rocky Mountain’s best hikes.
Bear Lake is one of the park’s most popular locations for first-time visitors, and with good reason. From here you’ll have a front-row vantage level 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 should undoubtedly expect large crowds.
Hikes here range from simple jaunts around Bear Lake (0.5 miles) or to Alberta Falls (1.6 miles) to more challenging excursions that follow the glacial valleys up to their origins. Mills Lake (5.6 miles) is a good alternative, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which might be extended to the exquisite Lake of Glass and Sky Pond (9.8 miles), hiking posters
both of which are as serene as their names suggest. And while Flattop Mountain (12,324ft, 8.eight miles) might not be the park’s greatest 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 favorite and known for its various scenery. On this hike you'll climb up to the treeline and an alpine lake earlier than 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.
Thanks to the park shuttle system, this is a one-method trip 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 rough-cut 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 top of RMNP and certainly one of Colorado’s traditional climbs. The tallest peak in the park (14,259ft), its exhilarating and exhausting Keyhole Route is on many visitors’ to-do list. The highest of this route is the crux, consisting of slender traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and coronary heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most people start the climb by 3am in an effort to reach the summit before noon.
The nice news is that you just don’t have to succeed in the summit or turn your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, positioned at the foot of the Diamond – Longs’ legendary east face where technical climbers rope up to scale the 1000ft wall – is routinely rated as one of the park’s greatest hikes. Chasm features all the spectacular surroundings of the height with out the risk and arduous ascent. Nonetheless, at 8.four miles round journey, you’ll nonetheless have to be in superb shape.
At the northeastern end of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.eight-billion-yr-old granite formations that have been sculpted by the elements relatively than by glaciers. This markedly different style of abrasion has resulted in an array of whimsically formed boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The path to Gem Lake is a great way to explore the world, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the way in which as much as the bijou-like lake.