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Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation Ideas

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From wildflowers to waterfalls, treetops to tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park has something to offer nature lovers with every changing season. Check out our list of the top vacation ideas for the Rockies before you start planning your dream Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary. The park comprises 60 mountain peaks that help to make up the US’ Continental Divide. This mountainous terrain was long ago carved by the might of ancient glaciers. The dramatic topography of Rocky Mountain National Park fosters different ecosystems, some of which support life at up to 14,000 feet above sea level. The Rocky Mountain National Park experience changes with every season and every mile that visitors get closer to the sky, making the Rockies full of vibrant and diverse places to visit. For more travel inspiration for future adventures, load up on footage of the great Coloradan outdoors with our Rocky Mountain Vacation Travel Guide video.


Ideas of places to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park

A vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park makes for the perfect wilderness escape. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the most popular attractions and the hidden gems amid this pristine natural setting. Not only does the scenery change with altitude and the seasons, so too does the wildlife. Between sightseeing opportunities for the Rockies’ best natural formations, keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, white-tailed deer, moose, and 280 species of birds. Exploring the great outdoors is an art not a science; however, it does help to have a travel itinerary in place to help you make the most of your trip!


Sprague Lake, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Sprague Lake

(2:14 in the video) Make tracks to Sprague Lake to uncover the hidden majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a walk along the half-mile track around the lake and view nearby attractions Flattop Mountain and Hallet Peak from the various boardwalks and bridges along the way. The lake is wheelchair accessible and perfect for families. Be sure to make use of the free park shuttle during peak tourist season.


Bear Lake, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Bear Lake

(2:42 in the video) Dip your toes into the fresh, mineral-rich waters of Bear Lake. With its sandy beaches and breathtaking, natural allure, Bear Lake calls visitors to fish, boat and camp year round. Bear Lake Trailhead is the starting point for several scenic hikes of varying difficulty. Set aside some time in your itinerary to explore the area and nearby Tyndall Gorge to find neighboring lakes such as Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.


Sky Pond, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Sky Pond

(3:18 in the video) Natural wonder awaits all those who hike their way up to Sky Pond. The demanding yet rewarding hike begins at the Glacier Gorge trailhead and takes you past three waterfalls and a breathtaking set of cascades. Fields of columbines and other wildflowers surround the peak, as a small shelf waterfall spills past the marsh marigolds and out of Sky Pond. Incredible views of nearby attractions, such as Petit Grepon, The Saber, and The Sharkstooth peaks, are visible from the southwestern shores of Sky Pond.


Alberta Falls, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Alberta Falls

(3:34 in the video) Widely regarded as one of the best waterfall hikes in the park, Alberta Falls is a must-see for all visitors. The picturesque 30-foot waterfall offers hikers an excellent spot to rest and enjoy a relaxing picnic against the soothing sound of the falling water. Alberta Falls Trail is 1.6 miles long and suitable for all skill levels, making it a popular trail for those on foot and horseback.


The Loch, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

The Loch

(3:50 in the video) This spectacular subalpine lake is located at 10,000 feet and is framed by Thatchtop mountain, as well as Taylor Peak and Taylor Glacier. The lake is accessible year round with a free park shuttle that transports visitors to the trailhead during peak season. The moderate hiking trail to reach it is maintained through the winter months as well, making it an ideal choice for a family itinerary across all seasons.


Timberline Falls, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Timberline Falls

(4:06 in the video) Test your hiking ability at Timberline Falls. This 8-mile loop trail is located near Estes Park and is most commonly used by visitors for hiking, nature trips and bird watching. The waterfall itself drops about 100 feet and the cascades continue beyond the valley. Be sure to catch a bird’s-eye view of The Loch from the top while you’re there.


Glass Lake, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Glass Lake

(4:39 in the video) Pay a visit to Glass Lake and take a break there to admire its grand, emerald green hue and see if you can spy one of the many large trout that inhabit it. Be sure to head to the lake’s north shore to get the best view of the valley this location has to offer.


Horseshoe Park - Estes park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Horseshoe Park

(6:14 in the video) Hike along lakeside trails, admire the scenic views from overlooks and spot big horn sheep and elk grazing in the meadows on your visit to the U-shaped valley, Horseshoe Park. Because of its grassy meadows, mineral licks and wetlands, wildlife abounds here. Horseshoe Park is a fantastic sightseeing spot for animal lovers. Each season brings different wildlife to center stage. See elk in fall, bighorn sheep at spring’s end, and bluebirds and hummingbirds in summer.


Old Fall River Road, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Old Fall River Road

(6:29 in the video) Embark on a charming journey to the alpine world along this predominantly gravel road that opened over 100 years ago. Old Fall River Road was the first automobile road in Rocky Mountain National Park offering entry to the park’s high country. This old road is safe, but its narrow curves are best taken at a leisurely pace – which is perfect because the abounding views deserve to be savored. In some places, the trees are close enough for motorists to reach out and touch them.


Trail Ridge Road, Estes Park - Rocky Mountains National Park

Trail Ridge Road

(8:26 in the video) This scenic mountain highway has earned the distinction as the highest continuously paved road in the US. Travelers climb approximately 4,000 feet into the Rockies’ lofty wilderness in mere minutes. The journey begins amid aspen and pine trees, giving way to fir and spruce trees before finally yielding to the alpine tundra. Trail Ridge Road is a highway to the sky and deserves a spot on every Rocky Mountain itinerary.


Need more Rocky Mountain National Park vacation ideas?

Want some more travel inspiration for your next vacation? Browse through our Rocky Mountain National Park photo gallery to see more unique pictures of this incredible destination. If you want to broaden your horizons, our wider photo gallery houses pictures from around the world to help you envision that soon-to-be unforgettable vacation.

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This article was originally published on December 9, 2020. If you’d like to stay updated on new videos of the beautiful destinations that our planet has to offer, subscribe to Expedia’s YouTube channel.

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