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Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
The Blizzard Surprise+−
- A hot coffee never tasted so good
Chasing the Hat a Few Summers Later+−
- Crossing the Continental Divide
- Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary
Day 1: The Top of the World+−
- Alpine Ridge
- A Sea of Wildflowers in July
Day 2: Easy Does It and Filling the Camera’s Memory Card+−
- Finding an Elk
Days 3 and 4: Hoofing it, OMGs, Clear Alpine Lakes and Navigating Crowds+−
- This is What It’s Like Without Snow
- Shuttles and Transit
- Entrance Fee
- Getting There
To many, it’s a song in their heart. To even more, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks with visitors. It’s so popular, the National Park Service requires reservations to enter the park. Here’s a great three-day visit with some insider tips on how to beat the crowds and skip the NPS timed entry reservation requirement.
With elevations climbing from one to nearly three miles high, no matter the season, planning and preparation are important when visiting Rocky Mountain.
The Blizzard Surprise
“This sure came out of nowhere.”
We were trudging through the deepening snow in a surprise blizzard in our snowshoes, heading back to the car parked at Glacier Basin. It was my first visit to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. Cross-country skis were strapped to our pack, and the track we cut through the basin already filled in.
“We’re on the right trail.”
“I can hardly see the trees.”
Despite it being early March, the weather around us screamed winter, and I just wanted to get into the car and go back to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Even with the wind at our backs and the near-zero visibility, it was still proof that Rocky Mountain National Park is a year-round destination. We were having a great time in the wild outdoors, blizzard and all, with a fun park itinerary slated for the spring days ahead. The key was being prepared for the unexpected.
With the GPS track on the screen, snacks in the pack, spare batteries and warm clothes, the routine ski run turned into an adventure on the east side of the massive national park. The heavy snow made mountain views impossible, but even in snowshoes, this was an easy hike day trip just a few hours from Denver.
A hot coffee never tasted so good
Snaking through the thick stand of trees over a small mogul, the snow-covered car awaited. In the now heavier snow, it was slow going down Bear Lake Road into the descent past Moraine Park and back to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. We were over 8,000 feet above sea level the whole time, an elevation gain of around 3,000 feet from mile-high Denver.
Sitting in the café at the Beaver Meadows visitor center with a hot cup of coffee, we started penciling in a Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary for the summer months.
“This must be a beautiful scenic drive in the summer.”
“It sure is; come back in July.”
Even with the surprise of an unpredicted blizzard, a trip to visit every part of the park in the summer was high on the bucket list. RMNP is a NPS destination for a year-round experience.
Read More: What to pack for a day hike
Chasing the Hat a Few Summers Later
“Oh no!” The shout came from our left on a brilliant July morning under a clear blue sky punctuated with puffy white clouds. Fumbling with the camera, I attempted to grab at the sun hat the wind had captured and was sailing toward the edge. Snatching a piece of it, I couldn’t hold on, but had disrupted its aerodynamics. My companion grabbed the hat.
“Oh, thank you so much,” said a man with a thick Swedish accent, rushing towards us with his companion just behind him. “It’s her favorite hat.”
My companion handed the hat to the woman. Standing on the overlook at the top of Alpine Ridge, 12,000 feet above sea level, all of us were out of breath.
Crossing the Continental Divide
A half-hour earlier, with the car crossing the Continental Divide, it wheezed up U.S. 34, Trail Ridge Road, following the course of a gurgling stream that is the headwaters of the Colorado River. We made the 300-degree curve below Shipler Mountain and climbed the last 3,000 feet with another 300-degree turn to pull into the Alpine Visitor Center. The longest third-of-a-mile hike breathlessly took us the final 200-foot elevation gain from the visitor center to the Alpine Ridge overlook, a full-circle view of the Rocky Mountains. Although it’s a paved, easy hike, you definitely experience the thin air at this elevation.
Gustav and Sara Bergstrom from Sweden were in the last of their four-week exploration of the American West. The four of us took in the panoramic view of the top of the world. I believe we even saw Longs Peak, the highest point and only 14—a peak over 14,000 feet high—in Rocky Mountain National Park.
“We flew into Los Angeles three weeks ago,” Sara said. “We’re going to fly out from Denver early next week, and it’s been an amazing itinerary for our holiday.”
Gustav said they explored Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde national parks.
“America is so lucky to have these parks,” he told us.
Like us, the Bergstroms were based in Grand Lake, coming in the west side of the park to avoid much of the traffic in crowds from Estes Park on the east side. During the summer, Rocky Mountain National Park visitors are so plentiful that NPS offers shuttle buses on the east side to reduce traffic congestion. There is less visitor traffic from the Grand Lake entrance on the park’s west side. More than 80 percent of RMNP visitors enter through Estes Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary
In the summer on the east side, RMNP has a timed entry permit reservation system from May 26 through October 22. A prepaid entrance fee and timed entry permit are required to enter the park, and they are available through Recreation.gov.
Ramping up planning means downloading park brochures and deciding whether to fight the crowds from Estes Park or a meander along U.S. 34 through the park and set up basecamp in Grand Lake lodgings or at a west side campground. We penciled out a four-day itinerary.
For hikers, there are incredible hiking trails of various lengths of difficulty from Trail Ridge Road into the heart of the RMNP backcountry. Well-spaced backpacker campgrounds with breathtaking mountain views, waterfalls and peaceful settings populate both sides of the Continental Divide.
Day 1: The Top of the World
Start the first-day west side visit by dropping into the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, just north of Grand Lake. At about 8,880 foot elevation, it’s a good place to acclimate with a short easy hike on the Livery Trails or the old CRD Trail, which are under a mile around the visitor center and have little elevation gain.
Following Trail Ridge Road towards the headwaters of the Colorado River, target Alpine Ridge Trail for lunch. Stopping to take in the sights and clear mountain air at the half-dozen lakes, historic ranch sites and thundering mountain streams and rivers will get you to the Alpine Visitor Center before the lunchtime crowds. There, the park expands to the east and draws you further. Hiking trails, sharing experiences with other hikers and wildlife viewing will broaden the experience of the west side climb.
There’s a snack bar at the Alpine Visitor Center, or pack a picnic from a deli or order a to-go lunch from a restaurant in Grand Lake and enjoy mountain views while munching better food at a picnic area or overlook.
“We couldn’t find a picnic table with a view like this,” said Jaime Pattison of Orange, California. “My partner says I’m wrong, but I think this is a better view than eating on the beach.”
His partner scoffed at the notion and said, “It sure is spectacular, though. It must be a close second to the ocean.”
The two laughed.
A Sea of Wildflowers in July
Because of the elevation and late spring, the meadows were seas of wildflowers on the shores of the mountain peaks. This was especially true at the Forest Canyon Overlook and Rainbow Curve, the last stop on the first day. Between the two, it’s a 360-degree view.
Forest Canyon has a short hike from the parking area but with a nearly 200-foot elevation gain. At almost the 12,000-foot elevation, it’s a trudge. The view of mountain peaks to the south and east makes the trek well worth the effort, and Rainbow Curve satiates the mountain views craving to the north and west.
Returning to Grand Lake from Rainbow Curve adds about 90 minutes to make it a round trip.
Day 2: Easy Does It and Filling the Camera’s Memory Card
Heading out in the early morning from the lodge in Grand Lake, we picked up a lunch ordered the night before from a deli in town and then turned east on U.S. 34. Today’s destination was to turn onto Old Fall River Road and take the long, slow, one-way climb from Horseshoe Park to Chasm Falls and way, way up to Alpine Ridge.
Opened in 1920, the 11-mile road was the original route taking visitors to the top of the Rocky Mountains at Alpine Ridge. With the posted speed of 15 miles an hour and 16 very tight switchbacks without any stops, it’s more than an hour to get to the end. Once on the road, there is no turning back.
Finding an Elk
The drive was well worth it. At Willow Park, there was a herd of elk feeding in the meadow, and we had to stop twice for mobs of bighorn sheep to cross in front of us. It seemed like the same mob, and we had to stop for another flock on the road back to Grand Lake just below Alpine Ridge.
On the second day, we spent much of our time in pullouts along Trail Ridge Road and the few pullouts on old Fall River Road, taking photos and watching wildlife. It was a nice setup for the crowds we’d be experiencing the next day.
Days 3 and 4: Hoofing it, OMGs, Clear Alpine Lakes and Navigating Crowds
With heavy-duty hiking boots in the car and a hearty picnic lunch on the back seat, we set off early to beat the crowds at RMNP and head for the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The nearly two-hour drive sparked with the sunrise glistening off the Alpine lakes we passed over the Continental Divide and town towards Estes Park.
At the junction with Bear Lake Road, we turned south and headed towards the Glacier Gorge Trailhead for our first hikes. In the park-and-ride parking lot, we took the hiker shuttle to our destination trailheads to navigate the crowds.
Despite the cool temperatures, we didn’t have to worry about a surprise blizzard this time. This was the trail where I cross-country skied years earlier.
This is What It’s Like Without Snow
Without the deep snow and blinding wind, it was a moderately challenging hike past Bear Lake and Nymph Lake to Dream Lake. These are just three of the 23 Alpine Lakes in RMNP. Trekking into the gorge and across the tundra gives the feeling of being in another world entirely. We passed through a shimmering grove of aspen trees to reach the edge of the tree line.
Stretching the trip into this area turned the day into a road trip. We returned to the lodge in time for dinner and quickly conked out for the night.
The next day, we were back in the same area, this time spending the day hiking the challenging Flattop Mountain Trail above Emerald Lake across the chasm from Hallett Peak.
Getting up the following day for the trip back to Denver from Grand Lake, we took U.S. 40 for expediency, soaked in the views and headed for home packed with memories, three filled SD cards from the camera and newly muscled legs that reminded us of every hike whenever we stepped from the car.
Shuttles and Transit
Particularly on the park’s east side, visitor volume and traffic are so high that parking areas fill early in the day. RMNP offers free shuttles and transit routes to alleviate traffic, and transit runs from Glacier Basin Campground to Bear Lake and Sprague Lake to Moraine Park. The Hiker Shuttle Route runs from the Estes Park Visitor Center and stops at any park-and-ride parking lot on the way to the collection of trails at Glacier Basin.
A day trip into Rocky Mountain National Park costs $30 per vehicle; you can get a seven-day pass for five dollars more per vehicle. If planning visits to three or more national parks or federal land areas, the best bargain is the America The Beautiful Interagency Annual Pass. The $80 annual pass provides admission to all federal lands in the United States and its territories. When you’re over 62 years old, that $80 buys a lifetime pass. Various entrance fee programs are offered by the National Park Service, and five free entrance days during the year.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s east side is accessed at the Fall River entrance outside Estes Park, about 90 minutes north of Denver. Add 30 to 60 minutes during the summer for congested traffic making the same trip. It’s best to travel very early in the day.
If the west side is the base camp for a visit, it’s another two hours through Boulder via Estes Park and over U.S. 34 to Grand Lake through the park or three hours from Denver on U.S. 40, skirting the park traffic. Either road is filled with mountain views and collected mountain peaks.
Four Perfect Days in Rocky Mountain National Park with a Mob of Bighorns and Elk? ›
Ideally, plan on spending at least three days in Rocky Mountain National Park. This gives you enough time to drive Alpine Ridge Road, Old Fall River Road, and hike a few of the trails. If you are an avid hiker, I recommend spending five or more days in Rocky Mountain National Park.How many days are enough in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Ideally, plan on spending at least three days in Rocky Mountain National Park. This gives you enough time to drive Alpine Ridge Road, Old Fall River Road, and hike a few of the trails. If you are an avid hiker, I recommend spending five or more days in Rocky Mountain National Park.What time of day is best to see elk in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Here are some useful tips for viewing elk in Rocky Mountain National Park! When visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, the best time to view elk is usually around dawn or dusk. If you're able to spot one, it's best to be as quiet as possible and not make any sudden movement!Where is the best place in Rocky Mountain National Park to see elk? ›
Moraine Park – Located just a few miles east from the park headquarters, Moraine Park is one of the best places to see elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Approaching Moraine Park, the road winds through large open meadows where the elk love to congregate.What is the hardest day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
1. Hallett Peak –Generally rated as strenuous, hikers gain stunning mountain views that make it well worth it. Reaching a height of 12,713 feet, the trail begins at Bear Lake, which starts at 9,475 feet. Hikers will be met with spectacular views of Longs Peak, the Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Peak, and Head Peak.What month is best for Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is from June to September when the snow is (mostly) melted and the hiking trails and attractions are accessible.What is the busiest month at Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Trail Ridge Road is typically closed from late-October to late-May, depending on the yearly snowfall—although it is open to Many Parks Curve. Another thing to consider is the crowds; summer is by far the busiest season of the year, followed closely by fall weekends.How likely is it to see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
|Bighorn Sheep||350-450||88% Late Feb - May|
|Mule Deer||300-450||85% or more Mid Sept - March|
|Coyote||125||14% Nov - May, 11% June - August|
|Moose||180-250||*Only during June - early Sept. , after April 15th 45%, May 60%, Winter 5%|
The best time to see elk is during their rutting season in the fall. In September, head to Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, or Upper Beaver Meadows, where you'll see dozens of elk and hear the majestic bulls bugling. Note; males are particularly likely to be territorial during the mating season.How likely are you to see a bear in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
In fact, only a tiny fraction of people who visit the park ever see a bear. If you do happen to see one, count yourself very lucky. If you do encounter a bear, you'll find that they are very shy and will likely run away from you. Rocky Mountain National Park has a very small population of bear.
Where are you most likely to see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Look for moose in areas with aquatic vegetation and willows. Visitors see moose fairly frequently along Highway 34 in the Kawuneeche Valley. Moose are becoming more frequent on the east side of the park and enjoy riparian (river) areas and lakes. Keep your distance while observing moose in the park.
Black bears hibernate in winter and mate in summer. Rocky Mountain National Park's bear population is small. In Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, you may spot one along Mosca Pass Trail.
A lot of folks consider Sky Pond the most beautiful hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Breathtaking alpine scenery and some of the best views in the entire park is visible from the Sky Pond Hike. The trail itself is not easy so hikers will have to work for the views.What is the most iconic hike in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Mt. Ida: Hands down this is the best hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The views from the summit are simply epic. In fact, hikers will enjoy outstanding panoramic views along much of the route.What is the most scenic road in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
As one of the most popular scenic drives, in not only Rocky Mountain National Park but in all of Colorado, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved road in the United States. Topping out at 12,183 feet, visitors will encounter an array of wildflowers, wildlife, and of course unobstructed mountain views.How do you avoid crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
To avoid heavier crowds, be at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead by 6 a.m., the Bear Lake Trailhead by 8 a.m, the Park and Ride by 9:15 a.m., Wild Basin area by 9:30 a.m. and Alpine Visitor Center by 10 a.m. Hike early or hike late. The benefits are fewer people, great sunrises and sunsets, and cooler weather.How long should you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
If you can spend three full days in Rocky Mountain, you will have time to hike some fantastic trails, drive the main park roads, and escape the crowds. Spending three full days in the park is ideal if you want to hit all of the main attractions in Rocky Mountain and really enjoy the picturesque landscapes.What time should you get to Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
In general from July through September: Avoid weekends and/or go early in the morning to beat the crowds. In the peak months arrive between 7 and 8 AM to get a parking spot. Usually, it starts to get busier after 9 AM. Especially popular entrances like Estes Park or trailheads like Bear Lake Trail are extremely busy.Where is the best place to start Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Fall River is the best park entrance if you are looking to get to Trail Ridge Road. You can avoid the need for reservations if you arrive at the Fall River entrance after 3 pm. By this time the park is quieting down, and you'll have a better experience.What are the not busy trails in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
- 1 | Black Canyon Trail, Lumpy Ridge. RMNP has a lot of trailheads, many of which are on the outskirts of the town of Estes Park and not inside the main park area. ...
- 2 | Dunraven Glade Trail, Glen Haven Trailhead. ...
- 3 | The Backway to Cub Lake. ...
- 4 | The CCY Hike, Fall River Road.
What is the best time of day to drive the Trail Ridge Road? ›
If you plan on driving, heed our advice and start early. Tour buses, RV's, and other drivers usually pack the road around 10 or 11 a.m. and an early start can mean enjoying the scenery at your own pace, while also photographing stunning sunrises and grazing wildlife.What time of year is the hardest for the moose? ›
Autumn is the most active season for moose. This time of year begins the mating period, called the "rut". Bull moose thrash shrubs and trees to shed the velvet from their antlers. Bull moose challenge each other for territory and mating rights.What is the best time of day to see moose? ›
The best times of day to see moose are early in the morning or at dusk, while the best time of year is from mid-spring through late June. Moose prefer shady, wet areas such as bogs and marshes. After dark, moose are very hard to spot standing on the road high above vehicle headlights.Are there mountain lions in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Mountain Lions are the largest predators currently in Rocky Mountain National Park. They are also known as pumas, cougars and panthers. They vary in size and weight, with males reaching up to 200 pounds and eight feet in length (one-third of their length is the tail).What time can you see bighorn sheep in Estes Park? ›
Early summer is the best time to see the Bighorn as they migrate down into the lower elevation valleys of the park. Horseshoe Park is of the best places to view the sheep.Are there a lot of bears in Estes Park? ›
Bears! Rocky Mountain National Park is home for anywhere between 20-30 black bears, with Grizzlies no longer existing in Colorado. And while they are sparse, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself and the bears safe on your next visit to Castle Mountain Lodge and the Rocky Mountains.What month are elk most active? ›
Plus, with Full Moons landing at the end of the months, elk should be more active during daylight hours during prime hunting dates in September, October and into November, which should align well with hunting seasons in many western states.What time are bears most likely to be out? ›
Bears are most active during early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer. Mating usually takes place in July. Both female and male bears may have more than one mate during the summer.
If you see a bear before it sees you, slowly and calmly back away from the area and keep an eye on the bear. Never approach a bear that doesn't see you—it could lead to surprising the bear, which can cause the bear to react. Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, and at night.Which park has the most grizzly bears? ›
Katmai National Park (Alaska)
The highest concentration of grizzly bears in the United States is in Katmai National Park. The park was established in 1918 to protect the brown bears that frequent the area, and today it's home to an estimated 2,000 grizzlies.
What is the most common animal in the Rocky Mountains? ›
Members of the deer family (Cervidae) are relatively common in the Rocky Mountains, and include North American elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, woodland caribou, and moose.Which national park has the most moose? ›
Moose are most heavily concentrated in Grand Teton Park. Look for them at Willow Flats, Christian Pond (near Willow Flats) and around Oxbow Bend. In Yellowstone, see them in Willow Park, between Norris Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs.Are there predators in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Mountain lions and bobcats are considered common in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, they're still rarely seen since they're so elusive. Mountain lions are predatory and often feed on deer throughout the park. As such they're an important part of the ecosystem, and they help to balance the population of deer.Where is the most grizzly bears located? ›
A large population of grizzly bears lives inland in Alaska and northern Canada. The southern populations in Canada's British Columbia and Alberta are greatly reduced.What time of day is best to see grizzly bears? ›
Your chances are always greatest of spotting wildlife at dawn or dusk. Get up early to catch animals including bears during their active feeding hours. Bears are generally out of hibernation from early April through November.What time of day is best to see bears? ›
Early morning and late afternoon sightings are more likely, since that is when they forage for food. Black bears avoid activity during the heat of summer days, preferring to lounge in the shade or rest high up in a tree. Bears are great climbers and often hang out in trees.What time of year is best to see bears? ›
If you want to give yourself the best chance to see an active bear, September and October are the best months. Bears are most active during this period, preparing for their lengthy hibernation. Some of the most popular activities for bears include snoozing, wandering, and fishing.What is the most photographed place in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Bear Lake is probably the most visited and iconic place in Rocky Mountain National Park. From this vantage point Longs Peak, the tallest mountain in the park can be seen towering over the lake.What is the famous Pass through the Rocky Mountains? ›
Iceberg Pass is the highest of three mountain passes located within Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road. It's located 22 miles west of Estes Park in the front range mountains, summiting at an elevation of 11,827 feet.What is the famous elk in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Kahuna's skull and massive antler were illegally removed from the park but park rangers recovered the skull and antler about a month after he died.
What is the most popular trail in Estes Park? ›
Gem Lake: One of the most popular hikes in the Estes Valley, the Gem Lake Trail starts at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park north of Estes Park off of Devil's Gulch Road. While there is a slight incline of 968 feet, there are some rather steep spots.What is the easiest hike in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
1. Lily Lake Loop. Features: The Lily Lake Loop is one of the easiest hikes in the park, and the trailhead is only about 6 miles from our resort. On the Lily Lake Loop, you'll enjoy vistas of Lily Lake, as it reflects the surrounding mountain range.How long does it take to drive Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
It's located within the Rocky Mountain National Park and connects Estes Park and Grand Lake. It has a total distance of 48 paved miles and would require at least 2 hours of driving to complete.Is 2 days enough in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Anywhere between 2 and 5 days is a good amount of time to spend at Rocky Mountain National Park. If you only want to see the highlights and aren't that interested in hiking, one day could be sufficient. Two days, however, is long enough to hit the most popular sites, do a few hikes, and have a bit of downtime.How long does it take to go around Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
The Rocky Mountain National Park Scenic Loop is 164 miles of pure mountain adventure. This four-hour drive will take you from Denver to Estes Park, through Rocky Mountain National Park on the magnificent Trail Ridge Road and then through Grand Lake, Granby and Fraser to Winter Park.How long does it take to enter Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Plan to arrive early, wait times to enter the park could be 30 minutes or longer. If you would like to visit destinations located along the Bear Lake Road and arrive before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m., a timed entry permit is not required. Remember that you must enter the Bear Lake Road Corridor entrance before 5 a.m.Is bear spray necessary in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Here in Rocky Mountain National Park you do not need to hike with bear spray and bear bells are not needed either. To learn more about the bears of Rocky Mountain National Park, read this article on the park website.Is Estes Park worth a visit? ›
Estes Park is so popular because it is well-located near Rocky Mountain National Park. Additionally, it is an iconic Colorado mountain town that is a great place to go on outdoor adventure, catch local wildlife and enjoy stunning alpine beauty.What is the best drive in Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
As one of the most popular scenic drives, in not only Rocky Mountain National Park but in all of Colorado, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved road in the United States. Topping out at 12,183 feet, visitors will encounter an array of wildflowers, wildlife, and of course unobstructed mountain views.What is the best way to see Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
There is no better way to experience Rocky Mountain National Park than from a hiking trail. And there are many to choose from. With 355 miles of hiking trails, you could spend weeks here and never run out of things to do.
Is there a scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Wonders abound inside Rocky Mountain National Park-many of which can be enjoyed without donning a backpack and hiking deep into the interior. Just hop in the car and hit the road! Several scenic drives originate on the park's east side near Estes Park.Can I turn around on Trail Ridge Road? ›
If you're coming from Estes Park, this is the last dedicated viewpoint on Trail Ridge Road. You can either turn around here and head back to Estes Park or continue on to Grand Lake.How long to drive Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
It's located within the Rocky Mountain National Park and connects Estes Park and Grand Lake. It has a total distance of 48 paved miles and would require at least 2 hours of driving to complete.Can I drive Trail Ridge Road without a pass? ›
Driving Trail Ridge
To drive Trail Ridge Road, you must have a reservation or enter the park before or after the reservation time period.
It's best to hike in the morning and to be below the tree line by 1 pm. Finally, Trail Ridge Road, the main road the cuts across the park, is open from Memorial Day to mid-October. During the remainder of the year it is closed due to snow.What is the difference between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park? ›
Estes Park is a town—you can come and go as you please.” Rocky Mountain National Park (a different type of park all on its own) does require a timed-entry permit (plus an entrance pass).