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 contains an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the sculpted peaks silhouetted against the blue sky serve as a dramatic reminder of the last ice age. Traverse this great backbone of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot recent bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the one centesimal anniversary of one in all America’s oldest nationwide parks within the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of marvel restored.

It’s an enormous place, so that can assist you discover your approach, listed below are a few of Rocky Mountain’s finest hikes.

Bear Lake
Bear Lake is among the park’s hottest locations for first-time guests, 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 space and superb vistas, you must undoubtedly anticipate giant crowds.

Hikes right here range from easy jaunts around 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 choice, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which might be extended to the exquisite Lake of Glass and Sky Pond (9.8 miles), both of which are as serene as their names suggest. And while Flattop Mountain (12,324ft, 8.eight miles) is probably not the park’s finest 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 diverse scenery. On this hike you'll climb up to the treeline and an alpine lake before dropping back down by fields of scree and right into a forested valley. Right here you’ll pass more lakes, waterfalls, aspen groves and elk-inhabited meadows.

Thanks to the park shuttle system, this is a one-way journey that requires no backtracking – and what’s more, it’s largely downhill. You can’t miss Lake Helene, which sits serenely beneath the imposing rough-cut cliffs of Notchtop and Flattop mountains. To do this hike, park at Fern Lake Trailhead (the endpoint), ski town posters then take the shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead. Shorten the journey by simply 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 one in all Colorado’s traditional 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 slim traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most individuals start the climb by 3am with the intention to attain the summit before noon.

The good news is that you simply don’t have to reach the summit or turn your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, situated at the foot of the Diamond – Longs’ legendary east face the place technical climbers rope as much as scale the 1000ft wall – is routinely rated as one of many park’s greatest hikes. Chasm features all of the spectacular surroundings of the peak with out the risk and arduous ascent. However, at 8.4 miles round journey, you’ll nonetheless should be in very good shape.

Gem Lake
On the northeastern end of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.eight-billion-yr-old granite formations that have been sculpted by the elements somewhat than by glaciers. This markedly different model of erosion has resulted in an array of whimsically formed boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The path to Gem Lake is a great way to explore the world, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the way as much as the bijou-like lake.

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