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Our National Park Series: Rocky Mountain National Park


Planning on spending your summer exploring? Why not try a rocky adventure – in Rocky Mountain National Park, that is. Last year, we celebrated our 100th anniversary by pairing up with the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea Program to get kids outdoors. Now, we want to continue inspiring kids and adults to get out and explore our country’s beautiful landscape. And Rocky Mountain, with its 8,000-foot elevations, clear alpine lakes and scores of wildlife, remains one of America’s most breathtaking backdrops for your summer adventures.

Photo Credit: Nomadic Lass, Flickr

Located within the state of Colorado, this national park includes the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Colorado River. In fact, the entire park encompasses 265,761 acres of land, with landscape ranging from glaciated peaks to deep forests.

Photo credit: Ricketyus, Flickr

 

Wildlife range from marmots and pikas to mule deer, mountain lions and black bears. And here’s one you’re likely to see: moose!

Photo credit: Dave Herholz, Flickr

Photo credit: Dave Herholz, Flickr

Convinced this place is worth a visit? We can assure you it is – and here’s some suggested activities to inspire you to make the trek:

1. Take a scenic drive on Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain’s “highway to the sky,” “road to heaven” and highest paved road in the country. You’ll have photo ops like no other – if you can stomach the climb!

Along the way, you’ll experience complete changes in climate and locale: from montane forests of aspen and pine to subalpine forests of fir and spruces, along with significant temperature shifts. A heavenly landscape, no?

Sunset on Trail Ridge Road. Photo Credit: Adam Baker, Flickr

Sunset on Trail Ridge Road. Photo Credit: Adam Baker, Flickr

Trail Ridge Road. Photo Credit: Dakota Duff, Flickr

Trail Ridge Road. Photo Credit: Dakota Duff, Flickr

Photo credit: Miguel Vieira, Flickr

Photo credit: Miguel Vieira, Flickr

 

2. Hike around Bear Lake. A beautiful nature trail surrounds this subalpine body of water, and it’s one of the most-visited trails in the park. For good reason, as you can see below.

 

Bear Lake. Photo credit: Alaskan Dude, Flickr

Bear Lake. Photo credit: Alaskan Dude, Flickr

3. Saddle up and horseback ride the 260 miles of trails. Here are the recommended trails, from NPS:

  • Big Meadows (9,400′ starting elevation). Trailheads: Green Mountain, Onahu Creek and Tonahutu (Haynach Lake Trail is closed to all stock except llamas).
  • East Inlet Trailhead (8,391′): East Inlet.
  • Lawn & Ypsilon Lakes Trailhead (8,540′): Lawn Lake.
  • Lost Lake Trailhead (7,960′): Dunraven Glade, US Forest Service.
  • Thunder & Finch Lakes Trailhead (8,470′): Wild Basin; Finch Lake.

There are two in-park stables available for booking horses and guides: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables.

 

Stable at the park. Photo credit: Marco Becerra, Flickr

Stable at the park. Photo credit: Marco Becerra, Flickr

4. Rock climb at Lumpy Ridge. According to rockclimbing.com, “This place has some of the most incredible trad climbing in the United States. The granite is bomber and the gear is great. The cracks are sometimes weird and flaring, and can be deceptively hard.”

Dare to tackle this summit?

Lumpy ridge. Photo credit: Jasen Miller, Flickr

Lumpy ridge. Photo credit: Jasen Miller, Flickr

 

Photo credit: Skinned Mink, Flickr

Photo credit: Skinned Mink, Flickr

5. We said it once, and we’ll say it again: moose! Look for moose along the Colorado River Trailhead. This river is the same one that carved out the Grand Canyon, and it begins right in the park.

Photo credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta, Flickr

Photo credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta, Flickr

Photo credit: Robert Nunnally, Flickr

Photo credit: Robert Nunnally, Flickr

 

Have you ever visited Rocky Mountain National Park? What park activities do you recommend?

 




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