Rocky Mountain National Park

Year Established: 1915
Annual Visitors: 4.43 Million
Size: 265,807 Acres

State: Colorado

Best Time to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

June to September

If you are planning to visit more national parks, check out our complete list of all US National Parks.

Best Experiences in Rocky Mountain National Park

Emerald Lake

Elevation: 10,121 feet

Emerald Lake in May.
Emerald Lake in July.

To get to Emerald Lake, you’ll need to go around the right side of Dream Lake and keep going over a rocky path that includes rock stairs if you want to reach the last lake. Just over half a mile and another 300 feet of elevation gain awaits you as you cross the 10,000-foot mark. You’ll be able to get up up and personal with Emerald Lake and its stunning mountain backdrop because the trail ends right at the water’s edge.

The chipmunk population is huge up here, and those little guys aren’t afraid to show their faces. Be wary of the park’s aggressive small animals; their sole objective is to get their hands on your food. And they will try to get into your bags if you leave them unattended.

Sprague Lake

Elevation gain: none

Sprague Lake is beautiful, and you can stop there quickly and easily on Bear Lake Road. We really recommend stopping here for a minute to walk around the flat lakeside loop. You have to walk all the way around the lake, as the best view of the mountains is on the far side.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake is a great place to watch sunrise because you can see the alpine glow reflect off the mountains in the background.

Also, Sprague Lake is a good place to look for wildlife. Before we went, we heard that it was a great place to see moose, especially early in the morning. 

Sky Pond

Elevation Gain: 1720 feet

Phil and I both agree that Sky Pond is one of the greatest hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was exactly what we were looking for. There are a few waterfalls, alpine lakes, some tricky places to scramble, and some of the best jagged mountain scenery in the world. If you get there early enough, you won’t have to deal with crowds either. Not too bad, right?

On the way to Sky Pond, the trail starts by going by Alberta Falls and the Loch. You’ll walk around the lake from the Loch and through a rocky meadow. Now the hike starts to be fun! Timberline Falls will be in the distance, and yes, you have to climb it!

To get to the base of the falls, you’ll have to climb up the steepest and rockiest part of the whole trail. Then, you’ll have to scramble up the side of the falls to get to the top of the moraine. Not too far from here is Lake of Glass, a beautiful alpine lake with great views of the mountains.

A Brief History

This park has 77 peaks that are higher than 12,000 feet, making it a dream for hikers and climbers. Some of the heights are really scary, like Diamond, which rises straight up 2,000 feet, and Long Peak, which rises 14,259 feet. Visitors who don’t want to risk their lives can explore the evergreen forests, alpine tundra, and tiny wildflower fields.

Even though grizzly bears no longer live in this land that spans the Continental Divide, moose, bighorn sheep, and elk have been brought back to the United States’ fourth most visited park.

Naturalist Enos Mills, who is known as “the father of Rocky Mountain National Park,” once said, “The Rockies are…uniquely full of mountain scenes that stir the blood and make life stronger and sweeter.”

Apart of The Rockies

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are made up of at least 100 distinct mountain ranges that stretch over 3,000 miles from British Columbia in Western Canada to New Mexico in southwestern America. The Rockies are unquestionably the ideal destination for adventure seekers. There’s a lot to see and do along the area which is known as America’s backbone.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is a natural wonder that everyone should see. The park can get crowded in the summer, but there are still plenty of untamed and little-explored areas that are ideal for nature lovers. If meandering through the wildflowers isn’t your thing, take the Trail Ridge Road up to 12,000 feet for stunning views of the alpine and subalpine worlds below.

But know there are many neighboring wonders to explore while in Colorado.

Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming and Montana, should be at the top of the list. Around 60% of the world’s geysers, which are natural hot springs that erupt in towering explosions of boiling water and steam, are found in the world’s first national park. You can feel the power of a volcano firsthand by visiting the colorful hot springs and bubbling mud pits, as well as admiring the wildlife and surrounding forests.

Glacier National Park on the other hand is located on the Canada-United States border and offers a variety of recreational opportunities.

Take a tour of the park on one of the restored 1930s White Motor Company Red Jammers, or enjoy a historic wooden boat tour on one of the larger lakes, as well as hiking and other activities. As your first stop in the park, we recommend paying a visit to Apgar Nature Center, where you can get advice and information. Lake McDonald is another attraction in the park; it is the park’s largest lake and the main hub of activity on the west side.

On your trip, remember to stop by Cliff Palace, North America’s largest cliff dwelling. The structure was built by the Ancestral Pueblo people and is located in Mesa Verde National Park. The Cliff Palace can only be explored on a guided tour, which can be purchased at the visitor center or research center. The tour follows in the footsteps of the original inhabitants, and visitors must descend a stone stairway and ten-foot ladders.

Rocky Mountain RV Camping

If you are looking for nearby RV camping options for Rocky Mountain National Park or in Colorado, consider checking out our other post:

Visitor Information


Daily Park Passes

$15.00 per person/cyclist

$30.00 per vehicle

$25.00 per motorcycle

Weekly Park Passes

$35.00 per vehicle for 7 days

$30.00 per motorcycle for 7 days

Annual Park Passes

Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass – $70.00

America The Beautiful Annual Park Pass

You can also get an annual park pass to ALL National Parks in the United States for $80.
Keep in mind they have Senior, Military, and other discounts available!

Contacting Rocky Mountain National Park

Phone Number

(970) 586-1206

Visitor Centers

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
beaver meadows visitor center great smoky mountains the chambers rv image 1

Beaver Meadows is the busiest and most well-known visitor center in the park. It is open 362 days a year and is right on Highway 36 before the south-east entrance to the park. Every half hour, you can watch a brief video about the park at this center. You can also talk to real park rangers, buy gifts and guidebooks, and sign your kids up for the Junior Ranger Program. The center first opened in 1967. It was made by the architecture firm of Frank Lloyd Wright. There are restrooms for people with disabilities and for families at the center.


1000 US-36,
Estes Park, CO 80517

Phone Number

(970) 586-1206

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Monday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
Fall River Visitor Center
fall river visitor center great smoky mountains the chambers rv image

The Fall River Visitor Center is at the northeast entrance to Rocky along Highway 34. It has welcome information, rangers on site, and a special hands-on exhibit. There is a restaurant and a gift shop in the shops near the center. Fall River has restrooms for families and people with disabilities.


Estes Park, CO 80517

Phone Number

(970) 586-1206

Hours of Operation (April through Mid-December)

  • Sunday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Monday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Be sure to check for seasonal closures.

Alpine Visitor Center
alpine visitor center great smoky mountains the chambers rv image 1

At an elevation of 11,796 feet, this Visitor Center is a popular stop for travelers in the summer and early fall. At this center, which is at the top of Trail Ridge Road, you can see the alpine tundra in a way that will blow your mind. Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved road in the United States that goes straight up. The center has a gift shop, a café, and information about the park rangers. There are also displays about the tundra and viewing scopes. At the Alpine Center, there are both stalls and vaults that can be used by people in wheelchairs. It is only at the times when  Trail Ridge Road is open that this center open. You can find out about Trail Ridge Road by calling 970-586-1222.


Trail Ridge Rd,
Grand Lake, CO 80447

Phone Number


Hours of Operation
(Typically open late-May through mid-October)

  • Sunday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Monday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Be sure to check for seasonal closures.