Rocky Mountain National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Ready for your next RV adventure? Consider a trip to one of Colorado's most popular recreational destinations. Just northwest of Denver lies Rocky Mountain National Park, home to 415 square miles of majestic peaks that soar up to 14,000 feet and more than 350 miles of trails that take you into untouched wilderness. It's a fantastic place for your next RV getaway.

Rocky Mountain National Park offers opportunities for a once-in-a-lifetime RV getaway. Lose yourself in a breathtaking environment filled with towering mountains, free-roaming elk and mule deer, enchanting meadows with wild moose, 156 glistening lakes, lush forest, and jaw-dropping waterfalls. You can enjoy an excursion any time of year since cold winters offer the perfect weather for cross-country skiers, while warm summers provide a haven for nature lovers of all types.

Rocky Mountain National Park is best known amongst RVers for its awe-inspiring mountains including the Hallett Peak, Deer Mountain, and, the tallest mountain, Longs Peak. This enchanting wilderness is also full of picturesque bodies of water from Sprague Lake and Lily Lake to Calypso Cascades and Alberta Falls. The Rocky Mountain region has a rich history since it was originally settled by Native American tribes and later by gold prospectors and early railroad pioneers in the 1800's. You can get a taste of the park’s heritage with a visit to the early 20th-century ranch at Holzwarth Historic Site. Another stop during your RV excursion to this amazing national park should be at one of its three visitor centers, where you can learn all about the area’s natural history.

Visited by over 4.5 million people per year, this spectacular national park is one of Colorado’s best destinations for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Trail Ridge Road is a top-pick for amazing mountainous cycling and scenic driving. If you’re into wildlife watching and photography, there are loads of scenic outlooks to spot moose, elk, or even bears, such as those found at Forest Canyon Overlook. There is so much adventure waiting for you during your RV vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park from fishing and hiking to rock climbing and snowshoeing that you won't know where to start.

Park Alerts (5)

[Information] Old Fall River Road: Closed to motorized travel, open to bicyclists and pedestrians [+ Info]

Old Fall River Road is closed to motorized travel until early July 2019 (weather permitting). It's open to bicyclists and pedestrians (including those with leashed pets) until November 30. It will close to bicycles and leashed pets on December 1.

[Caution] Weather Changes Quickly at Rocky [+ Info]

Winter weather, including ice and snow, is possible at any time and can suddenly change road and trail conditions. Always check an updated weather forecast before you arrive.

[Information] Trail Ridge Road: Closed to motorized travel, open to bicyclists and pedestrians [+ Info]

Trail Ridge Road is closed to motorized travel until the last week of May 2020 (weather permitting). It's open to bicyclists and pedestrians (including those with leashed pets) until November 30. It will close to bicycles and leashed pets on December 1.

[Information] Trail Ridge Road: Closed to motorized travel, bicycles, pets [+ Info]

Trail Ridge Road is closed to motorized travel, bicycles, and pets. It will re-open to bicycles and leashed pets on April 1, 2020, and to motorized travel the last week of May (weather permitting).

[Information] Old Fall River Road: Closed to motorized travel, bicycles, pets [+ Info]

Old Fall River Road is closed to motorized travel, bicycles, and pets. It will re-open to bicycles and leashed pets on April 1, 2020, and to motorized travel in early July (weather permitting).

RV Rentals in Rocky Mountain National Park

Transportation in Rocky Mountain National Park

Driving

Rocky Mountain National Park is located next to the gateway communities of Estes Park and Grand Lake. It’s also close to Colorado’s capital city of Denver. This means that it’s easy to access the park by car and RV. You’ll want to take precautions when it comes to driving on mountain roads in the park since they may present winding or narrow conditions. While mountain driving in a large vehicle can be challenging, RVs and trailers are permitted on all park roads, except for Old Fall River Road. While the iconic Trail Ridge Road is steep, it is still suitable for RV's and trailers. Make sure to check weather and road conditions before heading out during the winter months.

Parking

There is parking available at the three visitors centers, in the trailhead parking lots, and in the campgrounds, if your plans include overnight accommodations. Parking for RVs and large vehicles may be limited depending on the parking lot, especially during the peak season. Another option is to park outside of the national park and take shuttles into the park during the summer months. You can park your RV at the Estes Park Visitor Center or at a lot near Town Hall in Estes Park. If you’re finding parking to be overcrowded, you can head over to the less crowded west side, since 80 percent of visitors come through the east side entrance.

Public Transport

If you want to get to the park by bus, the closest cities serviced by Greyhound are Denver and Granby. During the summer months, you can take free bus shuttle services in Estes Park that will take you into the park. From May to October, there are three shuttle bus routes offered by the Rocky Mountain National Park Shuttle System that will take you to many of the major destinations inside. Biking, hiking, and horseback riding are other popular modes of transportation in the park. You can also hire a private company to give you a guided tour.

Campgrounds and parking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park

Reservations camping

Denver West / Central City KOA

Head into the city of Denver or explore the beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountains in this wonderful area of Colorado. An assortment of museums, amusement parks, zoos, natural landmarks, and parks are just the tip of the snow-capped mountain that are all within your reach. At the Denver West/Central City KOA, find sites with full hookups for RVs up to 80 feet. Select patio sites are available, but all sites come with breathtaking views of the surrounding Colorado scenery. Other amenities such as Wi-Fi, cable TV, hot tub/sauna, and firewood help to provide a relaxing stay.

Estes Park KOA

Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO makes for a great base to explore 300 miles of the park's hiking trails and perhaps even spot elk, moose, and deer. Take the tour shuttle to town from Estes Park KOA and get close to the east entrance of the park, Lake Estes, and plenty of outdoor and kid-friendly activities. Bring a rig up to 35 feet in length to the Estes Park KOA and find shady spots with water and electricity or panoramic sites overlooking alpine mountains and provided with full hookups, cable TV and up to 50-amp service. Find a store, propane, and firewood on-site. Free internet is available for guests.

Fort Collins / Lakeside KOA

Explore the Front Range from Fort Collins, CO, the craft beer capital of Colorado, just an hour away from Rocky Mountain National Park and the state capital, Denver. Make Fort Collins/Lakeside KOA your base for rigs up to 75 feet and the whole family will be buzzing with plenty of outdoor activities in and around the campground. Live the good life on deluxe patio sites complete with a hot tub, patio furniture, a fire pit and BBQ grill (propane and firewood offered on-site). All sites have full hookups with up to 50-amp service and access to cable TV and Wi-Fi.

Fort Collins North / Wellington KOA

Whether you're in town to attend Cheyenne's Frontier Days every late July to fish, hike, or raft Poudre Canyon, or sample the local craft beers, Fort Collins, Colorado puts you close to the action. Get off the I-25 freeway and find a shady spot with a view of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains at Fort Collins North/Wellington KOA. You will find maximum 80-foot pull-through sites with full hookups, up to 50-amp service, and cable TV and Wi-Fi. Rent a bike and explore the campground, or get some exercise at the pool or on the basketball/volleyball court.

Moraine Park Campground

The Moraine Park Campground is open from May to October with 101 tent-only sites and 146 sites that are open to RVs and tents. Trailers and RVs up to 40 feet in length are permitted. This is one of the most picturesque campgrounds in the park, with jaw-dropping views of mountains and meadows. This beautiful, pet-friendly campground does not have full hookups, but does offer bathrooms, food storage lockers, and a dump station. Reservations are available up to six months in advance. Generator use is permitted during certain hours.

Aspenglen Campground

Camp under the shade of Douglas firs and look out onto open grassy meadows at Aspenglen Campground. Open from May to September, this scenic campground offers 13 tent-only sites and 41 sites that are open to tents and RVs. RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long can be accomodated. While there are there are no hookups available, you can use generators during limited hours. This pet-friendly primitive campground features potable water, food storage lockers, and restrooms. Reservations are open up to six months in advance.

Glacier Basin Campround

Open from May to September, Glacier Basin Campground offers 73 tent-only sites and 74 sites that are open to RVs and tents. You’ll be greeted by lush forests filled with Engelmann spruce and Ponderosa pine. While there are no hookups available, you can use generators during certain hours. This pet-friendly campground features a dump station, amphitheater, and restrooms. RVs and trailers up to 35 feet in length are permitted to camp here, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

First-come first-served

Timber Creek Campground

As the only campground on the west side of the park, Timber Creek Campground offers unique views of the Colorado River and the enchanting surrounding forests and hills. With 98 RV and tent sites available, you will enjoy amenities including restrooms, an amphitheater, food storage lockers, and a dump station. While there are no hookups at this campground, you can use generators during certain hours. This pet-friendly campground can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 30 feet in length. This campground opens only in the summer and early fall.

Alternate camping

Backcountry Camping

If you are a lover of outdoor adventure, you might want to park your rig and head out into the wild on your own. Summer is the most popular time for backpacking, with a permit required from May to October. You can camp in the backcountry at designated places in the park. If you’re up for a challenge, you can even camp off-trail and truly be one with nature.

Longs Peak Campground

If you want to park your RV off-site and pitch a tent, you can camp at Long Peak Campground. This is a small, tent-only campground with 26 sites available. This first-come, first-served campground is surrounded by majestic forest and sits at an elevation of 9,500 feet. If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience, you’ll have access to bathrooms, potable water, and food storage lockers. Leashed pets are permitted at this campground.

Private Campgrounds

There are dozens of private campgrounds and RV parks to choose from just outside of the national park. You can also find private accommodations in the nearby urban areas including Denver, Fort Collins, and Estes Park. The amenities at private campgrounds will range from rustic to luxury and may include full hookups, wireless internet, laundry facilities, cable TV, and swimming pools.

Seasonal activities in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spring

Photography

Rocky Mountain National Park is a mecca for photographers since there are limitless opportunities for eye-popping photos. Capture it all from soaring mountain peaks to magical lakes. Some of the best spots for incredible pictures include Emerald Trail Lake, Sky Pond, Alberta Lake, Longs Peak, and the Trail Ridge Road. Along any of these hikes, you will discover an abundance of interesting geographical features including rich mountainous terrain, diverse plant and animal life, and verdant green forests.

Picnicking

Spring is a wondrous time in the Rockies, filled with glowing green meadows and blooming wildflowers. If you want to spend a relaxing day in the serenity of nature’s beauty, there are many idyllic picnic spots where you can get comfortable. You can use the on-site grills provided for public use. There are also several picnic tables housed throughout the grounds in many different locations. Some of the most picturesque picnic spots include Copeland Lake, Endovalley, Lily Lake, Beaver Ponds, and Lake Irene.

Wild Basin Area

If you want to park your travel trailer and get out into the wild, you’ll love the chance to explore one of the most picturesque regions in the park, the Wild Basin Area. This is a prime destination for hiking where you can discover gorgeous waterfalls, lush forests, and hidden creeks. There are several trails full of wonder to explore that will take you from serene lakes to mystifying cascades. Beyond the stunning mountain views, you’ll be greeted by beautiful, blooming wildflowers in the spring months.

A spot with many picture-perfect moments to offer, you'll want to have your camera on hand to capture them, for sure. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing and bring along drinks and snacks to enjoy. Keep in mind that Wild Basin Road is gravel and not recommended for large RVs.

Wildlife Watching

There are many varieties of wildlife to see during your RV visit to the Rockies. During your trek through the premises, you will spot all kinds of different interesting animals including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. If you are especially lucky, you might even get to spot coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, badgers, and bears.

Dawn and dusk are actually some of the best times to snap photos of these majestic creatures as they are most active then. There’s no one best spot for sightings since the entire park is full of wondrous animals. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera.

Birdwatching

A spring RV visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best times to see over 280 species of birds that make this park their home. At Cub Lake, you will likely spot wrens and waterfowl, while Alluvial Fan is a great place to catch a glimpse of bluebirds and owls. With so many beautiful creatures flying through the skies, the Rockies are a paradise for birding enthusiasts of all levels. Bring along your binoculars, your camera, and a naturalist's guide to spot, identify, and record your discoveries. Proper walking shoes are a must as well.

Summer

Deer Mountain

If you want to get out of the motorhome and take a hike to one of the most spectacular views in the park, you’ll love a trip up Deer Mountain. This moderate three-mile trek is one of the most popular in the park, allowing you to soak up the incredible scenery glimpsed at Longs Peak and Hallett Peak. At the summit, you can enjoy a mountain picnic while taking in the amazing panoramic views that surround you. Pack a picnic lunch and be sure to include lots of drinking water to quench your thirst. Dress appropriately for a hike, including comfortable shoes.

Night Sky Programs

An incredible way to celebrate the summer when the sun dips below the horizon is to attend one of the regularly scheduled night sky and astronomy programs at the park. You can soak in dazzling celestial surprises by looking through telescopes, learning about the astronomy in the Rockies, or listening to thrilling ranger stories.

If you’re taking your RV trip in August, you can enjoy a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park Night Sky Festival, which encompasses three fun-filled days of lectures, activities, and night sky viewing. Pack a blanket to roll out on the grass or a comfy lawn chair from which you can recline enjoy your view of the stars. Since it can get chilly at night, dress in layers to remain toasty warm.

Sprague Lake or Lily Lake Walk

One of the best ways to experience the majesty of some of the park’s greatest lakes is to take a guided tour. Held several days a week all summer long, these ranger-led walks will take you around these enchanting lakes where you can see the glorious wonder of the Rocky Mountains reflected in the water. Surrounded by tranquil forests, these spots are some of the most breathtaking in the entire park. You won’t want to miss these sights during your RV trip to the Rockies.

Holzwarth Historic Site

If you want to learn more about the cultural history of the Rocky Mountains, you won’t want to miss a tour of Holzwarth Historic Site. Whether you venture to this historic site on your own or take a ranger-led tour, you’ll love the chance to explore a ranch, lodge, and cabins built by early 20th-century settlers. This the perfect spot to step back in time during your summer RV adventure to the Colorado Rockies. You'll find a parking lot, vault toilets, and picnic tables nearby.

Climbing and Mountaineering

Climbing and mountaineering have been popular sports in the Rockies since the 1800's. This national park is a world-renowned destination for rock climbers with hundreds of peaks and rock faces to tackle. Some of the most common spots for these adventures include the 14,249-foot Longs Peak, Lumpy Ridge, and Hallett Peak.

An RV trip to Rocky Mountain National Park offers wondrous opportunities for climbing and mountaineering unlike anything else seen in other areas of the country. If you are not an experienced climber, consider hiring a professional guide to accompany you. To ensure your safety, be certain to bring along the correct safety equipment.

Fall

Horseback Riding

Horses have a special importance in the history of the Rocky Mountain region. You can experience part of that heritage by enjoying a horseback ride through the incredible scenery found on the premises. Choose from taking a ride on your own or hiring a professional for a guided tour by one of the commercial vendors in the area.

You’ll love the chance to get out of your camper and enjoy an unforgettable ride past majestic mountains, grassy meadows, and enchanting forests. Horseback riding is permitted on 260 miles of park trails. Pack a bag which includes some snacks, sunscreen, and drinking water to carry with you on your horseback riding adventure. You'll find horse stables at Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables.

Cub Lake

One of the experiences you won’t want to miss during your RV trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is a hike to Cub Lake. Here you’ll be greeted by a glistening mountain forest and colorful plant life. Just under five miles round trip, this moderate trek passes through unique terrain that was damaged by the Fern Lake Fire in 2012. At the end of your journey, you’ll end up at the serene backdrop of Cub Lake and Stones Peak.

Biking on Trail Ridge Road

Biking is a popular sport at Rocky Mountain National Park since you can cycle on any of the established roads, except for Grand Ditch Road. If you’re looking for a thrilling uphill ride during your RV vacation to the Rockies, you won’t want to miss a chance to cycle the Trail Ridge Road. You’ll ride up to a maximum of over 12,000 feet while zooming past gorgeous hillside views, awe-inspiring mountain peaks, and lush lines of forest. Cycling on trails is prohibited. Bicycles must share the road with cars, so be careful while riding around. If you need to rent a bike, you'll have to go to Estes Park or another nearby town.

Copeland Falls

The fall is a beautiful time of year to visit one of the many amazing waterfalls at the park known as Copeland Falls. You can take an easy walk or hike just .3 miles up the Wild Basin Trailhead to be greeted by the majestic sight of this cascading rocky waterfall dazzling in the forest. If you want a chance to snap more pictures of other nearby waterfalls you can take a short detour to Ouzel Falls.

This hike is extremely picturesque, so you will definitely want to take time to just enjoy the beauty of the natural setting that surrounds you. However, make sure you pay attention to weather and dress in appropriate layers.

Fishing

When you take an RV road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll be in a fishing haven, where you have the chance to catch native trout. The middle of the day is the best time to go fishing as it is the warmest part of the day. Some of the most popular fishing spots include Glacier Creek, Dream Lake, and the Upper Thompson River. You’ll need to get a Colorado fishing license before you start hooking your bait.

Winter

Cross-Country Skiing

If you want to explore a rustic winter wonderland, you’ll be in the perfect place for cross-country skiing during your winter RV excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll coast along serene freshly fallen snow through alpine wilderness against the backdrop of awe-inspiring mountain peaks. The best area for cross-country skiing is the one located on the western side of the park where the snow is deeper. Hidden Valley Snow Park is one of the most popular spots where you can head out on cross-country skiing trails.

Sledding and Tubing

A fun activity the whole family can enjoy during your motorhome trek to the Rockies is sledding and tubing at Hidden Valley Snow Park. Located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, Hidden Valley is the perfect place to take the kids for a day of fun in the snow. They offer an easy sledding and tubing hill, warming hut, and heated bathrooms. If you don't bring your old sled or saucer, you'll need to rent one from rental shops in Estes Park.

Ice Climbing

If you’re an avid climber and up for a new challenge, ice climbing at Rocky Mountain National Park should be on your bucket list. There are dozens of ice climbing routes around the park, but one of the most popular is at Hidden Falls since it’s easy to access and offers climbs of up to 90 feet in height. For highly experienced ice climbers, you can tackle Alexander's Chimney on the east side of Longs Peak. Your climb will take you on an epic adventure through one of the most stunning areas in the country.

For those who are not experienced ice climbers, it is an excellent idea to consider hiring a guide to accompany you and your family. Be sure to bundle up against the cold by dressing in layers. Carry adequate drinking water with you to remain hydrated.

Bear Lake Nature Trail

As long as you pack warm clothes in your travel trailer, you’ll love a winter stroll in one of the most picturesque routes in the park, Bear Lake Nature Trail. On warmer winter days, this gravel trail is an easy half-mile loop that will take you through snowy forests to the base of Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak, where you can snap some unforgettable photos. Don't forget to wear appropriate footwear and to bring along drinking water and snacks to keep hunger and thirst at bay.

Snowshoeing

If you love hiking in the winter, a unique way to explore the park is with snowshoes. Most trails are open to snowshoeing, so you can park the RV and get out onto the land where you can enjoy the beautiful views of snow-capped trees and frozen lakes. Keep an eye out for regularly scheduled snowshoe ranger-led programs, so you can learn from the experts as you coast around this wondrous wilderness. Some of the most popular snowshoeing trails include the Emerald Lake Trail, the Glacier Gorge Trail, and Cub Lake Trail Loop.

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