Rocky Mountain National Park
Take I-70 to exit 232 (Empire) to US Hwy 40 to Granby to US Hwy 34 to to Grand Lake. During the winter, US Hwy 40 may be closed or have restrictions due to snow. Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is the most popular attraction in Colorado, drawing three million annual visitors to its 416 square miles of mountain beauty. The wilderness area includes 359 miles of hiking trails, 150 lakes, 60 mountains taller than 12,000 feet, and the opportunity to see elk, bighorn sheep, and moose. In 2014, National Geographic named Rocky Mountain National Park as one of its best trips in the world. RMNP stands out, among many other reasons, from other outdoor destinations due to its accessibility. Just 71 miles from Denver, the park is a memorable summer daytrip - and at $20 per automobile per day, it's also a very affordable one.
The center is located on Fall River Pass at the junction of Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road. Open daily from 9am-5pm after Trail Ridge Road opens for the season in late May, until it closes for winter around the end of October. There is a restaurant, bookstore, gift shop, and snack bar.
The Bear Lake Trailhead is located at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. The easiest way to access Bear Lake Road is by entering Rocky Mountain National Park from the east at the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Rocky Mountain National Park is very busy during the summer. Bear Lake is no exception. We prefer to snowshoe in the area during the winter to avoid the crowds. This hike is an excellent adventure for little ones who can't tackle a long journey. Due to the extreme popularity of the area, you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to reach the trailhead during peak tourist season. Since this is a nature trail, the park recommends hiking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction in order to follow along with an interpretative guide, published by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association. The hike begins just beyond the Bear Lake Ranger Station. As the trail circles around the subalpine lake it passes through a forest of spruce, fir, lodgepole pine and aspen.
The trailhead for the hike to Bierstadt Lake is located on Bear Lake Road, 6.5 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. Due to the extreme popularity of the Bear Lake Road area, you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to reach the trailhead during the peak tourist season. From Bear Lake Road the trail steadily climbs more than 600 feet, along a series of switchbacks, to reach the top of the Bierstadt Moraine. Along the way it passes through stands of lodgepole pines and aspens. As the trail climbs higher spectacular views of the mountains along the Continental Divide begin to open up.
Enter into Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. From the entrance station, make a left onto Bear Lake Road. Continue on Bear Lake Road for 2 miles, and turn right onto Moraine Park Road. Moraine Park Road will eventually dead-end at the Fern Lake Trailhead. The first 2.5 miles of this hike is relatively flat and easy. You will not encounter much elevation gain until you ascend the final 1.3 miles.
Located on Trail Ridge Road about 14 miles southeast of the Alpine Visitor Center. This overcrowded paved path is accessible by everyone and is just a short walk from the parking lot out to the overlook with a great view of the valley below.
Old Fall River Road is a one-way dirt road from Horseshoe Park to Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. The ONE-WAY road is nine miles long and is NOT OPEN UNTIL JULY 4 of each year. Completed in 1920, this road was the first to cross the Rocky Mountains.The drive winds past the stunning Endovalley Overlook (with impressive views of Deer Mountain) and the beautiful 25-foot Chasm Falls, ending at Chaplin Creek Trailhead, 10,640 feet above sea level.
Trail Ridge Road is the name for a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 and is the highest continuous paved road in the United States climbing to a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet, with more than eight miles snaking across tundra, high above the treeline at 11,000 feet. Also known as Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway, it traverses Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park, Colorado in the east to Grand Lake, Colorado in the west. Trail Ridge Road is closed during the winter, and often remains closed until late spring or early summer depending on the snowpack. It requires access to Rocky Mountain National Park even for local residents. The views throughout the drive are incomparable: At Milner Pass, motorists cross the Continental Divide.