Lace up your boots and get ready to discover 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 against the blue sky serve as a dramatic reminder of the final ice age. Traverse this great spine of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot fresh bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the one centesimal anniversary of one in all America’s oldest national parks in the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of wonder restored.
It’s a giant place, so to help you discover your method, listed below are some of Rocky Mountain’s best 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 entrance-row vantage point of the dramatic glacial valleys and hulking granite summits that make Rocky Mountain such a singular landscape. With ten lakes within the area and superb vistas, it's best to 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 up to their origins. Mills Lake (5.6 miles) is an efficient selection, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which can be prolonged 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'll climb up to the treeline and an alpine lake before 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-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 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 trip by simply going to Lake Helene and back (5.8 miles).
Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in each method, Longs Peak is the top of RMNP and considered one of Colorado’s classic climbs. The tallest peak within 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 to be able to reach the summit before noon.
The nice news is that you just don’t have to achieve the summit or turn your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, positioned on the foot of the Diamond – Longs’ legendary east face the place technical climbers rope up to scale the 1000ft wall – is routinely rated as one of the park’s finest hikes. Chasm options all the spectacular surroundings of the peak with out the risk and arduous ascent. Nevertheless, at 8.four miles spherical journey, you’ll nonetheless must be in very good shape.
At the northeastern end of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.8-billion-12 months-old granite formations that have been sculpted by the weather relatively than by glaciers. This markedly different model of erosion has resulted in an array of whimsically shaped boulders, balancing red rocks posters
and colossal domes. The trail 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.