Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is the fourth most popular U.S. National Park. The Colorado destination is an easy 90-minute drive from Denver International Airport. The park has towering mountains, icy flowing rivers, and animals ranging from moose and elk to black bears.
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If RMNP is on your must-see list, you won’t be disappointed. Here are some things you might not have known about this incredible place.
5. It Has One of the Highest Number of Trails in the National Park System
Rocky Mountain National Park is known as a premiere hiking destination, and the park ranks sixth in the National Park System (NPS) for number of trails, with 235 different paths. The best part is there’s something for everyone. From short, accessible walks around Sprague Lake to epic hikes that turn mostly into a climb on Longs Peak, a 14er, there are endless destinations. The large number of different trails can also make it easier to beat some of the crowds.
4. You Can Drive The Highest Continual Highway in the Country
Trail Ridge Road is an epic journey that takes visitors up and over the continental divide. The road connects the east and west sides of the park and brings drivers up to 12,183 feet. The road goes above the tree line, bringing visitors to a whole new area of the park. The high elevation keeps this a summer-only attraction, with the road closing by early October and remaining shut down until around Memorial Day Weekend in late May.
3. Autumn Starts Early in the Park
While the official start of fall doesn’t change, the weather in the Rocky Mountains does. The park’s high elevation keeps the summer fairly short, with cooler weather moving in at the start of September. While there may still be days around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it can also hit freezing temperatures with a mix of rain, hail, and other extreme weather. The park’s elevation ranges from around 7,500 feet to past 14,000 feet, so as a general rule of visiting, it’s good to prepare for all kinds of conditions.
2. You Can Stay at the “Haunted” Stanley Hotel While Visiting
One of the places to stay in nearby Estate Park while visiting RMNP is the Stanley Hotel, the hotel that inspired writer Stephen King to write The Shining. He and his wife visited the hotel as it prepared to shut down for the winter season, and wandering the empty halls helped King dream up the now classic horror story. A miniseries adaptation of the book also used the hotel as a filming location.
Besides The Shining, the hotel has plenty of its own ghost stories and is often named one of America’s most haunted hotels.
1. It’s an Awesome Winter Destination
For obvious reasons, Rocky Mountain National Park is busiest in the summertime. That’s when you’ll find all the campgrounds, trails, and roadways open to visitors. Once the cool weather moves in, parts of the park are not easily accessible. However, a winter visit is an awesome way to see a different side of the park. The park will be heavily covered in snow, allowing visitors to snowshoe, skate on a frozen lake, ice climb, and ski. Best of all, you’ll be able to avoid crowded trailheads.