You don’t have to be a mountain climber to enjoy the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. The awe-inspiring vistas, the sheer mountain faces, and elk everywhere greet you when you visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain National Park Travel Tips! Hiking, Summer, Fall, Winter, what to pack for Colorado and more!
Size – 265,770 acres
Visitors – 3,343,751 in 2014
Rocky Mountain National Park Travel Tips
Location – a 90-minute drive from Denver, Colorado
Timing– Sunrise is amazing in the park plus you have a great chance of seeing wildlife with a lot fewer people in the park with you.
The park is open year-round, but Trail Ridge Road is closed from mid-October to Memorial Day. For current Trail Ridge Road status call 970-586-1222.
Where to stay – Estes Park is the closest town to Rocky Mountain National Park. There are hotels, restaurants and the main street filled with gift shops and candy stores.
What to do –
Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles long and takes you along amazing mountain vistas
During Fall head into Rocky Mountain National Park to hear the elk bugling. Check out Horseshoe Park for viewing of the Elk. During rut, volunteers are available to answer questions about the elk. Check out #EstesElkWatch on social to see updates on Twitter and Instagram for where the biggest elk herds are located.
Things to know –
Be aware of altitude sickness. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting and in acute situations even unconsciousness. If you have heart or lung disease, know that high altitude can aggravate these medical conditions. Take your time and be sure to drink plenty of water. The only cure for altitude sickness is to go to lower elevations.
Cell service is spotty at best depending on your location in the park. Many areas do not have any cell service.
Pets are prohibited on ALL Rocky Mountain National Park trails, tundra and meadow areas. Leashed pets are only allowed in picnic areas, parking lots, campgrounds and along roadsides.
Weather can change in a second. Snow can fall any time of the year, especially at high elevations. Be prepared with proper clothing and layers.
If you are visiting the park in the summer be prepared for it to be busy. Make your camping and lodging reservations early.
For current Rocky Mountain trails reports visit www.nps.gov and follow the Road, trails, and long peaks condition and closure link.
For current Rocky Mountain weather check the National Weather Service site at www.weather.gov and put in locations like Estes Park, Co, Grand Lake, Co and Alpine Visitor Center, CO
A free shuttle bus runs within Rocky Mountain National Park. The routes include Hiker Shuttle Express Route, Bear Lake Route, and Moraine Park Route. Pick up a current park visitor brochure to see the current bus stops.
Alpine Visitor Center – The highest visitor center in the National Park Service is located at 11,796-foot elevation. There are amazing views over the tundra, interpretive displays, a bookstore, gift shop, and cafe. The Alpine Visitor Center is only open when the Trail Ridge Road is open.
Open: Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, depending on the weather. Daily hours: 9 am – 5 pm.
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center – Near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on US Hwy 36 west of Estes Park. This visitor center offers a free park movie, bookstore, and park information.
Open year-round. Reduced hours in Fall, Winter, and Spring. Closed Thanksgiving and December 25.
Fall River Visitor Center – Near the Fall River Entrance on Highway 34 west of Estes Park. This visitor center offers life-sized wildlife exhibits, interpretive displays, and a bookstore.
Open: Late Spring through mid-Fall. Summer hours: 9 am – 5 pm. Closed for winter except for select holiday dates: 9 am – 4 pm Nov 25 and 27, Dec 3-4, Dec 10-11, Dec 17-18, Dec 19-24, and Dec 26-Jan 1. Closed Thanksgiving and December 25.
Sheep Lakes Info Station– Weather permitting this station is located in Horseshoe Park on Highway 34 west of Estes Park. The info station has ranger programs and information on the area. This is a great place to look for bighorn sheep and elk.
Open: Spring and early Summer. Daily hours: 9 am – 4:30 pm.
Kawuneeche Visitor Center – Located in the Grand Lake Area on Hwy 34 north of Grand Lake. This visitor center has park info and maps, a free park movie, interpretive exhibits, a bookstore and backcountry camping permits.
Open year-round. Reduced hours in Fall, Winter, and Spring. Call 970 627-3471 for winter hours. Closed Thanksgiving and December 25
For more information check out the Rocky Mountain National Park section on the National Park Service Website. You can also call 970-586-1206 for information.
How much does it cost to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?
1-Day Pass – Automobile – $20.00
Valid for the date of purchase. Covers single, a non-commercial vehicle with 16 or fewer passengers. Purchase online.
1-Day Pass – Per Person – $10.00
Valid for the date of purchase. Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups.
1-Day Pass – Motorcycle – $20.00
Valid for the date of purchase. Covers single motorcycle.
7-Day Pass – Automobile – $30.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Covers single, a non-commercial vehicle with 16 or fewer passengers. Purchase online.
7-Day Pass – Per Person – $15.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups.
7-Day Pass – Motorcycle – $25.00
Valid for seven consecutive days (including date of purchase). Covers one motorcycle.
Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass – $60.00
Unlimited entry for one year from date of purchase. Purchase online.
Rocky Mountain National Park / Arapaho National Recreation Area Joint Annual Pass – $70.00
Unlimited entry to both areas for one year from the date of purchase.
Free Entrance Days in 2018 The National Park Service offers the following Entrance Fee Free Days this year:
- January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
- September 22 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11 – Veterans Day
Other fees such as reservation, camping, lodging, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
For more information on National Park Passes check out this post.
Is there a Junior Ranger Program at Rocky Mountain National Park?
Yes, You can pick up a free junior ranger program at any of the visitor centers within the park. You can also print the junior ranger booklet and other educational booklets ahead of your trip here.
Can I bring my Dog/Pet with me to Rocky Mountain National Park?
Pets are prohibited on ALL Rocky Mountain National Park trails, tundra, and meadows.
Leashed pets may accompany you only to the following areas:
- Along established roads or in parking areas
- In established campgrounds and picnic areas
Pets must be kept on leashes no longer than six feet.
Rocky Mountain National Park Facts
Rocky Mountain NP was once home to a private run ski area called Hidden Valley. The lifts and lodge have been removed but you can still sled and backcountry ski in the area.
Do you know how many National Parks you have visited? Check out this printable list of National Parks to check off which ones you have visited. You can also check out a list of Colorado National Parks to see which ones are nearby during your vacation.
Additional Resources Information
Rocky Mountain Park Mailing Address –
1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: (970) 586-1206
Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri.
Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.
Check out all of the great Colorado National Parks!