Rocky Mountain National Park's Greatest Hikes

Rocky Mountain National Park's Greatest Hikes

Lace up your boots and get ready to explore the vast wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra contains an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, hiking posters and the sculpted peaks silhouetted in opposition to the blue sky serve as a dramatic reminder of the last ice age. Traverse this great backbone of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot fresh bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of one of America’s oldest national parks within the time-honored tradition – backpack on, strolling sticks in hand and sense of wonder restored.

It’s an enormous place, so that can assist you discover your manner, here are some of Rocky Mountain’s best hikes.

Bear Lake
Bear Lake is among 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, it's best to undoubtedly expect large 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 comply with 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 may 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, 8.8 miles) is probably not 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 favourite and recognized for its numerous scenery. On this hike you'll climb as much as the treeline and an alpine lake earlier than dropping back down through fields of scree and right into a forested valley. Right here you’ll pass more lakes, waterfalls, aspen groves and elk-inhabited meadows.

Due to the park shuttle system, this is a one-means journey that requires no backtracking – and what’s more, it’s principally downhill. You can’t miss Lake Helene, which sits serenely beneath the imposing tough-minimize 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 merely going to Lake Helene and back (5.8 miles).

Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in every means, Longs Peak is the head of RMNP and considered one of Colorado’s basic 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 begin the climb by 3am so as to attain the summit earlier than noon.

The great news is that you don’t have to reach 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 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 height without the risk and arduous ascent. Nonetheless, at 8.four miles spherical trip, you’ll still need to be in excellent shape.

Gem Lake
On the northeastern finish of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.8-billion-year-old granite formations that had been sculpted by the elements relatively than by glaciers. This markedly totally different fashion of abrasion has resulted in an array of whimsically shaped boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The path to Gem Lake is an effective way to discover the realm, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the best way up to the bijou-like lake.