Rocky Mountain NP

  • Odessa Lake looking South - ©  Brendan Bombaci flickr user
  • Clear Rockey Mountain Creek - ©  James Wheeler flickr user
  • Colorado- Rocky Mountain National Park -Moraine Park - Elk Rut - ©   Wally Gobetz flickr user
  • Colorful November Sunset Sky and Longs Peak  - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user
  • First Light  - © Bryce Bradford flickr user
  • Flattop View  - © David H flickr user
  • Lead me to Longs Peak  - © David Kingham flickr user
  • Leaving Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - ©  Maciej Ciupa flickr user - Copy
  • Longs Peak and Lightning  - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user
  • Looking Back  - © TinkurLab flickr user - Copy
  • Snowfall on Mount Meeker and Longs Peak - ©  Phil Plait flickr user
  • Reflections of Longs Peak  - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user
  • Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado - USA - ©  Robin Kanouse flickr user
  • Rocky Mountain National Park  - © Glenn Harper flickr user
  • Rocky Mountain National Park  - © Jerry and Pat Donaho flickr user
  • Rocky Mountain Panorama - ©  im me flickr user
  • Rocky Peak - ©  James Wheeler flickr user
  • Speechless  - © Bryce Bradford flickr user
  • Sunset over the Rocky Mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - ©  Diana Robinson flickr user
  • Surreal Sunrise at Rocky Mountain National Park - ©  Dave Soldano flickr user
  • The view from Flattop Mountain  - © Michael Brashier flickr user
  • Tilted ice, rosy sunrise  - © Steven Bratman flickr user
  • View of Rocky Mountain National Park - ©  Andrew E. Russell flickr user
  • Bear Lake  - © Argyleist flickr user
  • Boulder field over Fern Lake  - © Brendan Bombaci flickr user
  • Reflection on Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park - ©  Frank Kovalchek flickr user
  • The Fern Lake Trail  - © John B. Kalla flickr user
  • Snowshoeing near Glacier Gorge - ©  sfgamchick flickr user
  • Glacier Gorge Rocky Mountain National Park  - © Dustin Gaffke flickr user

Key information: Rocky Mountain NP

    • Colorado's stunning Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of trails through truly spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery. Some famous walks and climbs including Longs Peak
      • Fabulous wildlife: elk, deer, moose, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, bighorn sheep, foxes, marmots, coyote, marmots, picas, squirrels, beavers and a variety of birds. 
        • Some of the walks here are tough, and in high, remote mountains, on which you may have to be self-sufficient. Weather can also be unpredictable and at times dangerous: come prepared for all eventualities.
          • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating87

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: around 4,340m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Rocky Peak - ©  James Wheeler flickr user

WALK SUMMARY

Colorado's stunning Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of trails through truly spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery.

Fabulous wildlife: elk, deer, moose, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, bighorn sheep, foxes, marmots, coyote, marmots, picas, squirrels, beavers and a variety of birds.

Tourism in the Rocky Mountain National Park has (by American standards) a long history; in 1909 a luxury hotel was built to house the rich on their search for a "wild west" experience. As with many of America's natural beauties, the parks survival can largely be attributed to the work of one dedicated local conservationist - in this case, Enos Mills.

There may still be luxury accommodation on its edges, but Rocky Mountain National Park is a wild and wonderful place to walk, although you won't be alone on the well-known trails in high season. Danger is ever-present in these peaks, from the risks of ice and vertigo, through some of the highest altitudes on the Continental Divide, to the possibility of deadly lightning strikes in the afternoon.

Lonely Planet's Hiking in the Rocky Mountains provides some excellent suggestions for walks, ranging from a half day to two days in length, all of which can begin from the Bear Lake area. Access here is relatively easy, with a free shuttle bus running regularly; if you are aiming for a less popular trailhead then you may need to arrange a private drop-off.

Odessa Lake: (2 day walk, 19.9km) Walk to outstanding Odessa Lake, gaining fantabulous views of Longs Peak and The Little Matterhorn and other mountains. A longer route than Bear Lake to Fern Lake.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake: This 9 mile loop (described by National Geographic as a "slice of heaven"), ascends by rivers, enjoying classic Rockies features including waterfalls and tremendous crags and peaks high above. Enjoy high Odessa Lake in its stunning setting, then descend by further streams, rivers and falls, to Fern Lake.

Flattop Mountain: Roughly 9 mile return hike from Bear Lake Trailhead to this 12,324ft er.. flat-topped mountain. A long ascent of approximately 800m. Steady to start with, steeper in the second half.

Great views of surrounding mountains as you get higher. See more info at (http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/flattop-mountain.htm)

Glacier Gorge: 9.6 miles up and back down a superb valley, with lakes and pine forest and bare, dramatic crags far above..

Longs Peak: The highest peak in the park (at about 4,340m). It has a distinctive box shape, one of the great landmarks of the Rockies. It is the most climbed 14'er in the Rockies, and can be reached in a long day walk. 4855ft altitude gain? Best times July-September. Popular - scores of visitors each Summer day.

See full page

Lawn Lake: A (relatively) easy (still 2,500ft of altitude gain to a maximum of approximately 11,000ft) 12.5 mile round trip in a gorgeous valley with forests and rocky magnificence all around. See more info at (http://www.protrails.com/trail/62/rocky-mountain-national-park-lawn-lake)

Haliett Peak: A steepish there-and-back trail (3,250ft of elevation gain) which is a continuation of The Flattop Mountain trail. See more info at (http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/hallett-peak.htm)

Other Walks to think of are:

-          Mills Lake (see some info at http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/mills-lake.htm)

-          Cub Lake  (see some info at http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/cub-lake.htm) 

-          Nymph, Dreams and Emerald Lakes (see some info at http://www.protrails.com/trail/60/rocky-mountain-national-park-nymph-dream-emerald-lakes)

Practicalities

Early June-early October. June-August = high risk of lightning strikes in the afternoon, aim to be off high ground by noon and keep a close eye on the weather.

There is a park entry fee (cheaper if you are travelling without a car), and permits are required for all backcountry camping. (Check status before you go)

The excellent www.onedayhikes.com is worth looking at for further information.

http://www.wildlandtrekking.com/adventurehikes/rockymountainnationalparkhiking.html

 

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks and making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: Deliberate Nomad
Posted on: 30/08/2015
We hiked an 8 day circle in 2013 in the Rocky Mountains National Park, James Peak/ Indian Peak Wilderness area. Our blog is here: http://colorado-backpacking.blogspot.com/


Walkopedia says THANK you, very helpful!

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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The view from Flattop Mountain  - © Michael Brashier flickr user

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Tilted ice, rosy sunrise  - © Steven Bratman flickr user ...
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