Ask any regular visitor and they’ll tell you—choosing the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is no easy feat.
Verdant fields of alpine wildflowers, glacially-carved valleys, and massive stands of fragrant ponderosa pines are just a few reasons that millions of visitors flock to Rocky Mountain’s 355 miles of trails each year. And the peak-filled park, which is situated ninety minutes north of Denver on the ancestral homelands of the Ute and Arapaho people, is a high-altitude mecca for wildlife seekers and lake lovers alike.
With so much on offer and a wide range of elevations, though, choosing an ideal, safe trail can feel challenging for newcomers. We’ve gone ahead and done the hard work for you. Below, we cover our favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. (All distances are round trip.)
What to know before you go
Rocky Mountain is a high elevation park, with its lowest point sitting at a peachy 7,630 feet. If you’re traveling in from sea level, it’s important to spend one to two days acclimatizing to the altitude, embarking on easier jaunts. As a result of its high-in-the-mountains stature, the park is known to hold snow well into July, so check trail conditions before heading out as well. Summer is the busy season, with trails mostly snow-free, and wildlife enjoying the lush meadows in plain view. Autumn is also an excellent time to visit, as the area’s aspen trees put on a dazzling display of golds and oranges from late September through mid-October.
Keep in mind that the park has recently implemented a timed entry reservation system for private vehicles arriving during the busiest months (May 26 to October 22). Plan ahead and be sure to book early if you want to visit the Bear Lake Corridor.