Lace up your boots and ski posters
get ready to explore the vast wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra accommodates an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the sculpted peaks silhouetted in opposition to the blue sky serve as a dramatic reminder of the final ice age. Traverse this nice spine 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 nationwide parks within the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of surprise restored.
It’s a giant place, so that will help you discover your manner, listed below are some of Rocky Mountain’s greatest hikes.
Bear Lake is likely one of the park’s most popular destinations for first-time guests, and with good reason. From right 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 within the space and superb vistas, it's best to definitely anticipate massive crowds.
Hikes right here range from simple jaunts around 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 a good choice, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which might be prolonged 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.eight miles) might not be 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 may climb up to the treeline and an alpine lake earlier than dropping back down by means of fields of scree and 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-method journey that requires no backtracking – and what’s more, it’s largely 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 journey by merely going to Lake Helene and back (5.eight miles).
Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in each means, Longs Peak is the pinnacle of RMNP and one of Colorado’s traditional climbs. The tallest peak within the park (14,259ft), its exhilarating and exhausting Keyhole Route is on many visitors’ to-do list. The top of this route is the crux, consisting of slim traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and coronary heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most people begin the climb by 3am in order to attain the summit earlier than noon.
The good news is that you simply 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 many park’s finest hikes. Chasm features all of the spectacular surroundings of the height without the risk and arduous ascent. Nonetheless, at 8.4 miles spherical journey, you’ll nonetheless need to be in very good shape.
On the northeastern end of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.eight-billion-12 months-old granite formations that had been sculpted by the elements rather than by glaciers. This markedly different model of erosion has resulted in an array of whimsically shaped boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The path to Gem Lake is a great way to explore the realm, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the best way as much as the bijou-like lake.