Rocky Mountain National Park's Best Hikes

Rocky Mountain National Park's Best Hikes

Lace up your boots and get ready to explore the vast wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra comprises 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 nice backbone of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot recent bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of considered one of America’s oldest national parks in the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of wonder restored.

It’s an enormous place, so that can assist you discover your method, listed here are a few of Rocky Mountain’s greatest hikes.

Bear Lake
Bear Lake is without doubt one of the park’s most popular destinations for first-time visitors, and with good reason. From here you’ll have a entrance-row vantage point 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 definitely expect large crowds.

Hikes right here range from straightforward jaunts round Bear Lake (0.5 miles) or to Alberta Falls (1.6 miles) to more difficult excursions that follow the glacial valleys as much as their origins. Mills Lake (5.6 miles) is an effective alternative, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which may be extended to the exquisite Lake of Glass and Sky Pond (9.8 miles), each of which are as serene as their names suggest. And while Flattop Mountain (12,324ft, 8.8 miles) might not be the park’s best 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 recognized for its numerous scenery. On this hike you may climb up to the treeline and an alpine lake earlier than dropping back down by means of fields of scree and right into a forested valley. Here you’ll pass more lakes, waterfalls, aspen groves and elk-inhabited meadows.

Due to the park shuttle system, this is a one-manner 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-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 trip by merely going to Lake Helene and back (5.8 miles).

Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in every manner, Longs Peak is the head of RMNP and considered one of Colorado’s classic climbs. The tallest peak in the park (14,259ft), its exhilarating and exhausting Keyhole Route is on many guests’ to-do list. The top of this route is the crux, consisting of narrow traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and coronary heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most people start the climb by 3am with the intention to reach the summit before noon.

The good news is that you just don’t have to reach the summit or turn your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, situated on 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 best hikes. Chasm features all the spectacular scenery of the height with out the risk and arduous ascent. Nevertheless, at 8.4 miles round trip, you’ll nonetheless need to be in very good shape.

Gem Lake
At the northeastern finish of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.8-billion-year-old granite formations that have been sculpted by the elements moderately than by glaciers. This markedly different style of abrasion has resulted in an array of whimsically formed boulders, balancing red rocks posters</a> and colossal domes. The trail to Gem Lake is a great way to discover the realm, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the way as much as the bijou-like lake."