Rocky Mountain National Park Guide

With soaring peaks, alpine lakes, majestic scenery, and miles and miles of trails leading to the waterfalls and roaming wildlife, Rocky Mountain National Park is a sight to behold!

In this guide, we’ll share some best things to see and do in Rocky Mountain National Park, along with the best time to visit, entry charges, etc. Let’s get started!



Park Rocky Mountain National Park
Founded 1803
Things To DoFalls, Lake, and Discover
Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National ParkBoulder Brook on Fall River, The Maxwell Inn, and Many More.
Price$25 to $35
Validity7 Days
Camping LocationMultiple Locations

Where Is Rocky Mountain National Park?

Rocky Mountain National Park spans North-Central Colorado, which is 55 miles to the northwest of Denver. To be precise, it is situated between the east of Estes Park and the west of Grand Lake.

To reach Rocky Mountain National Park, you can take a flight to Denver International Airport and then take Estes Park Shuttle or drive towards the northwest 80 miles to Estes Park.

You can also take a flight to Cheyenne Regional Airport, which is another airport close to the park.

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It is one of the highest and most-visited national parks in Colorado, United States.

It sits high on the Continental Divide and is a part of the Rocky Mountain Range, which runs through Canada to Mexico. 

Surrounded by lush forests, towering landscapes, and gorgeous scenery, itmakes you feel like you’re on top.

The Park hosts more than 4 million visitors each year for its wide array of hiking trails, scenic roads, and top-notch recreational activities such as biking, camping, fishing, and horse riding. 

Rocky Mountain National Park: Know Before You Go

History of Rocky Mountain National Park 

The human inhabitation in the area began when Paleo-Indians traveled along the Trail Ridge Road to hunt.

Arapaho and Ute people hunted and camped in the area and dominated the area until the late 1700s

In 1803, the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park was acquired by the U.S government.

In 1820, a long expedition was run in the area led by Stephen H. Long, for whom a peak is named. 

The real interest in preserving the region as a national treasure began in the early 1900s, when Congress, researchers, miners, historians began pleading their case for the establishment of this national park. 

Its act was signed on January 26, 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson to protect the area for coming generations, and the Park officially became a National Park.

In 1917, UNESCO designated the Park as one of the world’s first Biosphere Reserves. 

Best Things to do

Here are the top five places you must visit in the Rocky Mountains National Park: 

Trail Ridge Road 

If hiking is not your cup of tea, but you still want to enjoy the breathtaking view of Colorado, a long drive on “Trail Ridge Road” is a perfect option for you.

It is one of the highest paved roads in the United States that runs from Estes Park in the east to Grand Lake in the west.

Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy the jaw-dropping panoramic views of alpine mountains along many of the Park’s best overlooks, including the forest canyon overlook, Gore range overlook, and more.  

Bear Lake

Bear Lake is the epicenter of its park and a perfect point to head start your trip.

It is one the most famous and easy hikes in the Park that passes through a magical shoreline of spruce, aspen, and lodgepole pine.

The hike allows you to access multiple trails for an outdoor experience that you won’t forget soon. The total hike is around 0.6 miles long, ideal for all ages and ability levels. 

Alberta Falls

One of the most popular hikes within this park, Alberta Falls, is a gorgeous 30-foot waterfall that offers a wonderful and refreshing sight of water plunging down Glacier Creek.

It’s a great place to plan a relaxing family picnic or hiking adventure; the hike is 1.7 miles long and is relatively less strenuous than other hiking trails, making it an ideal option for travelers with different hiking skills levels.

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

Beaver Meadows is one of the busiest visitor centers in the Park, which remains open 362 days a year.

At the center, you watch a short orientation video about the Park, buy guidebooks and gifts, and interact with park rangers who provide valuable tips about the tourist spots, famous trails in the Park, and the activities to do depending upon the time availability, and skill level of the visitors.

The center also has family restrooms available with disabled access. 

Downtown Estes Park

Another must-visit place in this park is Estes Park. With breathtaking scenery, rich wildlife, over 300 tourist shops, amazing restaurants, and dozens of outdoor activities, Estes Park is a perfect stop for anyone looking to go on a shopping adventure.

You can either take a walk downtown or ride a tramway to enjoy a charming view of surrounding mountains, stunning architecture, and the Big Thompson River. 

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Best Time to Visit 

The best times to visit this national park are from mid-June to mid-October if you’re interested in fishing.

For those who want to avoid crowds and want to enjoy some peaceful time, Fall and winter are the best times to visit as the crowd begins to dissipate.

From November through April, the Park is least crowded and truly becomes a winter wonderland, a sight you absolutely can’t miss. 


If you’re taking a self-drive tour of the Park, don’t forget to pick up a park’s map of all the main attractions.

You can follow the order of attractions depending on the time you have and which entrances you’ve used to enter the Park.

Click here to download its Map or visit the Park’s official site to download the separate maps for all the top sites.   

Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National Park

It doesn’t have any lodges inside the Park. Here are the top five best hotels near the Park for different needs and budgets:  

  1. Boulder Brook on Fall River
  2. The Maxwell Inn
  3. Streamside on Fall River
  4. WorldMark Estes Park
  5. Murphy’s Resort


The camping in this park is a fun way to enjoy the mountain scenes and wildlife viewing.

It has five campgrounds that offer everything from tent sites to roomy spots for RVs, along with backcountry camping and backpacking trails.

All the campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for detailed information about the campgrounds and fee details. 


It has a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. The temperature in the mountains constantly fluctuates with the slight change in weather patterns.

During summer, the daytime temperature can go up to 70-80 degrees and can drop down to 40 degrees at night, with occasional snowfall even in July.

In winters, temperatures often dip well below the freezing point. 

For more information about the current weather forecast, visit its weather page.  

Reservations and Entry Pass

To enter this National park, visitors need a timed entry permit and an Entrance Pass to enjoy the recreational activities in the Park. 

The Timed Entry Permit is required if you want to visit the Park in a specific time slot. There are two reservation options available. 

Each daily reservation costs $2 per vehicle in addition to the $25 daily entry fee or $35 weekly entry fee per vehicle.

Check out the Park’s official page for more information about entry passes, or visit to make your reservation. 

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Checklist For Rocky Mountain National Park

Here’s are some essentials you need to pack with you to make your trip secure and comfortable:

  1. Backpacking Pack
  2. Quick-drying and moisture-wicking clothes
  3. Hiking boots
  4. Sun shielding hat/ Bandana
  5. A Sun hat and Sunscreen
  6. Rain jacket
  7. Binoculars
  8. Tent
  9. First-aid kit
  10.  Sleeping bag
  11.  Refillable Water bottles
  12. Firestarter
  13.  Park’s Map
  14.  Insect Spray

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Reservation to Enter the Rocky Mountain National Park?

Reservations are only required if you visit the Park from 9 am-3 pm or from 5 am-6 pm. Outside of these times, no reservations are required. 

How long does it take to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park?

The Park’s scenic loop is 164 miles of pure mountain adventure, which takes an approximately 4-hour long drive to fully explore the Park.  

How many days do I need in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Preferably, you’ll need 2-3 days to drive along the legendary Trail Ridge Road, hike a few of the trails and visit some top attractions in the Park. 

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